How Should I Preserve Evidence Before Trial?
If you have been injured in an accident of any kind, make sure you protect yourself by preserving the evidence of the accident. The following guidelines can be applied to almost any situation.
- If you’ve been in an automobile accident, take pictures of your car as soon as possible, before it is repaired, and if you’re able, take pictures of the other car also. Take as many photos as possible from various angles so that you can recreate the damage on film to anyone from any angle, including the undercarriage of your car. Photographs will illustrate the nature and severity of the injury, as well as preserve the state and condition of the location where you were injured.
- Take photographs of the area where the accident happened. Try to capture the area as it looked at the time of the incident, especially debris and/or markings or damage to the roadway. Preserving these conditions can be even more important when you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist. In this case, photographs provide you with the advantage of being able to point and direct, with specificity, where you came from, where you were going, and what you did at the time of the accident.
- One of the most critical things you can do to protect yourself is to obtain the written description of an eyewitness’s perception of the accident, while the facts and images are still crystal clear and fresh.
- Ask the witness to draw a diagram of the location, giving details where possible. A detailed diagram or map can become a great advantage to you in the event that the witness forgets many of the details at a later time. This can be used to refresh the memory of a witness after the passage of time, if it becomes necessary.
- It seems obvious, but make sure you record the witness’s name, address and telephone number. It’s also a good idea to get an alternate contact such as a spouse, parent or another relative.
- If you have been involved in an automobile accident, take your damaged vehicle to a repair facility as soon as possible. Visit at least two repair yards and obtain written and dated estimates. This, coupled with the photographs of your vehicle, will provide you with the advantage of knowing that you have done what you can do to support your allegation of injury.
- Be absolutely certain that you have written down the name, address and telephone number of the drivers of all vehicles involved in your automobile, pedestrian or motorcycle accident. Don’t forget to copy the license plate information and registration information of the other vehicle/s, along with the license information of the offending driver.
- Store the clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident in a place where they will not be destroyed or altered.
- If possible, get a sample of the object that caused the slip-and-fall and store it where you stored the clothing and shoes. Try and obtain a sample of the object, if possible, that caused you to slip and fall and store it in a safe place. Should it be stored in the freezer? Yes, if it is an item that will perish.
Keep a paper trail by documenting all verbal communication related to the case, particularly when dealing with insurance companies. The best way to do that is with a dated letter that confirms what was discussed during the communication.