What Evidence And Witnesses Are Important In A Personal Injury Claim?
Anything and anyone that can help prove who is at fault and what injuries and damages you have suffered is important in a personal injury claim. Most people nowadays carry around cellphones that allow you to take pictures of the scene of the collision. The roadway, the debris, skid marks, and the damage to the vehicles are important. Take photographs of the other person’s driver’s license, license plate, registration papers and insurance card. If you can make note of any traffic control signals, their location in relation to the scene of the collision, and whether they were working properly could be helpful. If you’re injured, call 911. Call for a police officer to come to the scene to take a report, and call for an ambulance if there are serious injuries. Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses. Anybody present who either saw or heard the collision or may have heard the other party making statements admitting fault is essential.
You want to give all of this information to your attorney so that he or she can get to work following up on this valuable evidence. Your attorney will contact the witnesses and get their statements, get the police report and medical records. Smart attorneys will also request 911 records which may reveal witnesses that are not listed on a police report but can have vital information about a collision they witnessed. The attorney will also contact the insurance companies and make claims and handle necessary filings, such as an SR-1, which is required in California when there has been a collision involving bodily injury or property damage of more than $750. There may be reporting requirements with your own insurance company. For example, if you were the victim of a hit and run, you must file a police report and report it to your insurance company within 24 hours. Most insurance policies require this. Therefore, you don’t want to delay giving your insurance company the information that they require which, in turn can speed up their response to your claim.
An attorney’s job is to PROVE what happened. Proof is the name of the game when it comes to injury claims. And, you must understand that there’s a big difference between TRUTH, which is what you went through, what you experienced, and what you will continue to experience, and PROOF, which is what the evidence and facts show. In injury claims, proof is what matters the most. The attorney’s job is to dig up the evidence necessary to prove your case, either for an insurance company that will only pay damages if you can prove they are required to do so, or for a jury that will only render a verdict if you can prove your claims of fault and damages are more likely true than not true.
If I Am Partially At Fault For My Injury How Will It Impact My Personal Injury Claim?
California is a comparative fault state. That means that even if you were not completely fault-free, even if you had some measure of fault in a collision, you can still pursue your claim and recover damages that were caused by the other party’s fault. For example, let’s say you were driving down the street travelling 50 miles an hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. As you approach an intersection with a green light, the driver going in the opposite direction makes a left turn in front of you and just as you reach the intersection, and there’s a collision. Who’s at fault? Well, your position is that the other driver made an unsafe left turn on a green light when your vehicle was so close as to constitute a hazard in California. That’s a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21801, and it is an attentive and negligent act by the other driver to make that turn. But, the other driver is likely to claim that when he began his turn you were far enough away that he felt he had enough time to turn safely, and that if you had been driving at the speed limit, he would have had plenty of time to safely complete his turn. Consequently, he and his insurance company are likely to say that you were also at fault due to speeding. This would be comparative negligence. In a case like this, with some measure of comparative negligence, you might be found to be 10% to 20% at fault. But, the remaining 80% to 90% of fault still lies with the other party. You may not be able to collect 100% of your damages, but you could collect perhaps 80% to 90% of it. And in a serious injury case, it’s still quite a bit of money. So, even if you are found partly at fault, you still have a legitimate claim.
What Defenses Do Insurance Companies Use To Avoid Paying Out On Claims?
It’s important to understand a few things about insurance companies, how they approach claims, and why they do what they do. When an insurance company pays out on a claim, or whether they payout at all, is purely a business decision for them. It is cold, calculating, and unemotional. It’s the opposite of your point of view when you’ve been injured because you’re in pain. You’re seeing doctors. You may be losing income, and you’re dealing with the loss or damage to your car. For you its personal and emotional. Insurance companies can and do question every decision that you make. Why didn’t you see a doctor sooner? Why didn’t you see the other vehicle earlier? Was it because you were not paying attention? The property damage on your car doesn’t look so bad. How could you be injured when the damage doesn’t look that bad? You continued to work, so how badly hurt could you be? The questions and challenges raised by insurance companies are endless because they work very hard to find ways and reasons to deny your claim, delay payment for your damages and defend against everything you claim.
Other common defenses and attacks they make on claims that you have to address are:
- Have you ever treated or consulted with a doctor for similar physical complaints or injuries in the past? How about injuries to the same part of your body?
- How do they know that your complaints and need for treatment are due to this collision as opposed to some other condition or event?
- Your doctor treated you with too many visits, you only needed treatment for two weeks not 12 weeks.
- Your doctor’s charges are too high.
- You took a week off of work but there’s no doctor’s report that says you needed a week off of work.
Additionally, they may want a recorded statement from you about the collision before they decide whether they will pay you anything. These are some of the issues that insurance companies raise. Often, they’re unmeritorious, but not always. They have a legitimate right to investigate, but they set up traps. If you go left, they’ll ask you why you didn’t go right. You need to stick to your guns. Believe in yourself. Retain an experienced attorney to help protect your rights and to stand up to them.
For more information on Evidence & Witnesses In A Personal Injury Case, a personalized consultation is your next best step or download my free book. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.