If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. A financial award may cover the cost of seeking medical treatment, help you recoup lost wages, or otherwise help you make ends meet while recovering from serious injuries. It’s generally in your best interest to hire an attorney to help pursue your car accident claim. Let’s look at what your attorney should do to ensure that your claim is investigated thoroughly.
Your Legal Advocate Will Need to Visit the Scene of the Crash
Even if you have provided your attorney with photos and videos from the crash scene, this person needs to visit this location. This will give your legal adviser a better idea of what you might have seen, heard, or otherwise experienced when the accident occurred. Having these insights might make it easier for your lawyer to develop arguments that will bolster your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
Your Attorney Should Seek to Gather Video or Photographic Evidence
The photos or videos that you collected at the scene of the crash may not be sufficient to prove that the defendant was responsible for causing it to occur. However, there is a chance that those who witnessed the collision took photos or have video footage that may help you obtain a better outcome in your matter. For instance, another motorist in the area at the crash may have recorded the accident on their dashboard camera. In most cases, it will be a good idea for the person representing you during the car accident claim process to take pictures of the crash scene.
Your Attorney Will Want Copies of Police Report Associated With Your Case
It will be difficult to accurately investigate the facts behind a car accident claim without a copy of the police report generated in your case. The report will likely include basic information about the accident, such as the makes and models of the cars involved. It may also include information about each driver and their insurance policies.
This report will also likely have statements from the motorists involved in the crash and from witnesses. Finally, the report may note whether driver impairment, road conditions, or poor weather might have played a role in the impact. It’s worth noting that whoever responds to the scene may make an initial determination as to who was responsible for the crash. However, this should only be taken as an opinion based on the available facts immediately after the collision occurred.
Legal Counsel Should Verify the Information Presented in a Police Report
Let’s say that a police report indicated that wet roads might have caused the crash. Most people may read that and assume that the streets were wet because it had recently rained or because snow had finished melting after a recent storm. Of course, the only way to confirm that is to determine if it had been raining or snowing in the area in the hours or days before the collision. A weather report may also indicate fog, torrential downpours, or anything else that may have made it harder to see or control a vehicle.
If a police report mentions that driver impairment may have played a role in the crash, it is a good idea to verify that this was the case. This may be done by looking at the results of blood, urine, or Breathalyzer tests conducted at the scene of the crash. In some cases, these tests will be conducted at the police station in the hours after the accident occurs.
Driver distraction may be cited as the most likely cause of a crash. In such a scenario, an attorney should attempt to get their hands on a copy of the defendant’s cellphone records. This may verify whether or not the other driver was carelessly using a mobile device just before the collision.
How Well Was the Defendant’s Vehicle Maintained?
Motorists are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are correctly maintained. If an underinflated tire, faulty brake line, or similar problem caused the defendant to lose control of their car, that might be enough to prove that this person acted negligently.
Ideally, your attorney will obtain any records that can help verify that the vehicle wasn’t properly maintained. For instance, the lack of a current inspection sticker on the car’s windshield may indicate that it hasn’t been looked at by a licensed mechanic as required by law.
It may also be good to ask for any routine maintenance records the defendant might have. Routine maintenance tasks generally include changing the oil, rotating the tires, and inspecting brake shoes and pads. Changing the oil and air filters can also be considered routine maintenance that might impact a car’s performance if you ignore these tasks.
It’s worth noting that this evidence can be substantial even if it doesn’t directly implicate the defendant. At a minimum, failing to change the oil regularly may indicate that this person isn’t a stickler for details. Ultimately, your lawyer may be able to portray the defendant as someone who couldn’t be bothered to pay attention when the accident occurred.
Has the Defendant Said Anything About the Case?
Anything that the defendant says during the car accident claim resolution process should be documented. For instance, if the defendant brags about driving without a license or insurance on social media, your attorney should take note of that. If the defendant says anything that may imply that they directly caused the crash, your attorney should also note that.
Social media may also be an ideal forum to collect pictures, videos, or other evidence that the defendant may post. It’s also not uncommon for others to upload the footage or leave comments on a post that could also be used as evidence to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your case.
Your Attorney Should Help You Document Your Financial Losses
Obtaining a favorable outcome after initiating a car accident claim depends largely on your ability to prove that you suffered a financial loss. Otherwise, the defendant’s actions don’t rise to the level of negligence. Therefore, your attorney will need to verify that you incurred medical bills, car repair bills, or other costs because of the defendant’s actions.
In most cases, you will receive an invoice after seeking treatment from your doctor or after visiting a local hospital. Your insurance company may also have additional paperwork outlining how much you were charged and what you would have to pay out of your pocket if your car accident claim is rejected.
The auto body shop repairing your vehicle should also provide you with an invoice for services rendered. At a minimum, you should receive an estimate outlining how much it would likely cost to have your car fixed properly.
An attorney should also help you organize invoices or estimates from other service providers you hired to help with tasks while you recover. For instance, if you hired a lawn service because you can’t physically stand up to mow the grass on your property, that could be considered a loss related to your accident.
Your Attorney Should Collect Information About the Defendant
Ideally, your attorney will search through available public records to get as much information about the defendant. Doing a soft pull on a person’s credit report may highlight the presence of previous judgments against this individual and whether they have been paid. It may also accentuate homes, cars, or other assets that might be eligible for liquidation if a judgment is granted in your case.
Running a credit check on the other motorist involved in a car crash may be necessary if this person is evading authorities. This is because you may be able to find out if this individual has an alias or what their last known address was. Furthermore, you may be able to determine if the defendant is employed and the employer’s name. It may be possible to talk to the defendant’s manager or colleagues to find out more about where this person might be.
Are Other Parties Potentially Liable for Damages?
In most accident cases, one person is primarily liable for any damages you may have incurred. However, multiple parties may be named as defendants in a given topic. For example, let’s say that the person who caused the crash was driving an employer’s vehicle.
In that scenario, the company may also be partially responsible for any losses you incurred. This may be especially true if the company is deemed the deep pocket in your case. The deep pocket is simply an entity affiliated with a person who acts in a negligent manner that has the financial means to pay what you’re legally entitled to in a final settlement or jury award.
A parent may be considered in the deep pocket if their teenage son or daughter causes an accident. If poor roadways played a role in causing a crash, a government agency might be added as a defendant to your case. Finally, if a collision is caused by manufacturer, dealership, or auto shop negligence, those parties may be included in your case.
There is a lot for a legal adviser to consider when investigating a motor vehicle accident case. Although honest mistakes may occur, a failure to adequately research your claim could be a breach of that person’s duty toward you. Therefore, do not hesitate to take whatever steps you think are necessary to ensure that you are getting the best work from your legal representative.