Gathering Evidence In Car Crash Cases
In a previous post, we examined the two common legal theories in car crash cases. Regardless of the method that applies, the process is very much the same. Since the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof, the victim/plaintiff must present persuasive evidence and present it in a compelling manner.
The civil court burden of proof is a preponderance of evidence, which means “more likely than not.” So for example, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had just come from a place that served alcohol, the jury can conclude that, more likely than not, the tortfeasor had also been drinking and was therefore impaired.
Typically, the police report is the most important piece of documentary evidence. However, since the police officer only hears one side of the story if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the report is often biased. Additionally, the report is often incomplete. First responders arrive on scene not to determine fault or collect evidence on behalf of the plaintiff, but to care for injured parties and secure the scene. So, officers usually only talk to witnesses at the scene who voluntarily come forward.
An attorney, perhaps in partnership with a private investigator, can collect even more evidence, such as:
- Additional Witness Statements: For various reasons, many people do not want to talk to police officers, but they are willing to speak with an attorney. It’s important to interview all witnesses whether they are favorable to the plaintiff or not, to both build a case and be ready for insurance company defenses.
- Physical Evidence: Police reports almost never include photographs and other physical evidence from the scene of the crash.
- Surveillance Video: Many intersections have red light cameras, many businesses have security video, and there are other sources as well.
Much of this evidence must be collected in the immediate aftermath of the wreck, which is why it’s important to call a lawyer before you call the insurance company.
All newer vehicles have event data recorders, which are similar to the black boxes in most commercial airplanes. Capability varies by make and model car, but most of these devices track and record:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application,
- Engine RPM, and
- Other key crash metrics.
North Carolina has a strict EDR privacy law, so in most cases, an attorney must obtain a court order to access and download the information that the device contains.
Contact North Carolina Attorneys
The stronger the plaintiff’s evidence, the greater the chance for maximum compensation. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in High Point, contact McAllister, Aldridge & Kreinbrink PLLC at (336) 882-4300. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.