Updated June 28, 2020 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff
Understanding the way lawyers think about personal injury claims is the first step to setting up a successful auto accident claim. Your settlement ultimately depends upon how lawyers or insurance companies value the strength of your claim.
While these tips will help you build a strong car accident case, we highly recommend speaking with an experienced auto accident attorney about your claim. A lawyer will examine your claim, collect evidence, speak to expert witnesses, negotiate on your behalf, and advocate for you in the courtroom, if necessary.
Don’t go through this process alone. We’re here to help.
When valuing the strength of your claim, lawyers and insurance companies evaluate the strength of the evidence that you can present in court to claim injury and collect damages.
A helpful way to think about the strength of your claim is not to focus on what happened, but instead to focus on what you can prove happened. Once you know this, you are armed with a perspective that will help you gather evidence to set up a successful claim if you are in an auto accident.
Personal injury claims arising from auto accidents revolve around proving liability. Liability, in law, is the responsibility for a person’s actions.
After a car accident, an injury victim can attempt to prove that the other driver is liable for their injuries. In order to prove the other driver’s liability, the victim must prove that the at-fault party owed the injured person a duty of care. The injured person must also prove that the other driver was negligent in some way. Negligence is, in simple terms, the lack of ordinary care. A driver drives negligently, for example, if they do things such as drive at excessive speeds, talk on a cell phone, or fail to stop at a stop light.
The injured driver must also prove that the other driver’s negligence caused their injuries.
If you have been in an auto accident and you feel the other driver is at fault, then it is time to start gathering evidence. Opposing insurance companies and their lawyers are not simply going to take your word for it and pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Fortunately, there are many ways to gather solid, reliable evidence that will back up your claims, which will eventually give you a better chance at a successful settlement.
One of the first things you should do in an auto accident is call 911. Calling 911 not only helps preserve your safety and the safety of those around you; it also provides you with a real record from the time of the accident because these calls are recorded and the arriving officer will complete a car accident police report.
The police report will contain the specifics of the accident and can be a credible piece of evidence. Make sure to exchange information with the other driver.
Use your phone to take pictures and videos of the scene. One good practice is to use your phone’s video capabilities to record a walk-around of your automobile. If anyone challenges the damages you report later on, you will have the proof on-hand.
Do not stop at taking videos and evidence of the damage done to your car, though. Take pictures of the other driver’s car in case the other driver claims a different version of events. Don’t forget to take pictures of the road, skid marks, broken signs, or guardrails.
All of this evidence can make your case more credible and strengthen your settlement claims.
If there are any witnesses, approach them about giving you a written and signed statement. We always recommend getting witnesses’ contact information. Ask them to write as legibly as possible and have them sign and date each page so nobody can claim that you forged a witness statement.
After the police take your statement, ask them for a service or reference number for the report they file. Police officers are viewed as credible witnesses and credible recorders-of-fact, so accessing a police report later is usually a good idea.
If you need medical care of any kind, accept it. It is not the time to “tough it out.” After receiving your medical care, keep detailed, meticulous records of your treatment plans, referrals, prescriptions, and medical charts. These records will be essential to proving you were injured.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a car accident, you are urged to contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An Indianapolis car accident lawyer from WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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