Evidence in Personal Injury Claims
How Do Accident Lawyers Investigate Different Types of Claims?
Our Attorneys Work Quickly to Find and Preserve Vital Evidence for You
After an accident, it is vital to act quickly to preserve evidence that may help your future insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Physical evidence disappears and memories fade quickly; once this information is lost, it generally cannot be recovered. However, different types of accidents require distinctive investigation techniques and actions that many injury victims and their families cannot take on their own. Therefore, to protect your right to compensation, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. A lawyer can collect evidence, speak to witnesses and insurance agents on your behalf, and take steps to ensure that the at-fault party properly preserves all relevant documents and information.
At Riddle & Brantley, we understand the importance of a thorough investigation after any type of accident. As soon as you contact us, we can begin talking to witnesses, taking photos of the scene and preserving evidence. We have been helping North Carolina residents in this way for well over 30 years. We know what to look for and where to start. Furthermore, we have our own team of investigators with prior law enforcement experience. No matter what type of accident occurred, we uncover the truth and help you hold the liable parties accountable for your injuries and damages.
How Does a Lawyer Investigate Motor Vehicle Accidents?
After a car or truck crash, our lawyers take the following steps to protect our client’s rights:
- Get to the scene as soon as possible to take photos. In most cases, the clients have already done this, as just about everyone has a phone with a camera. However, victims of serious motor vehicle accidents may require emergency, life-saving medical care, and therefore they cannot stay at the scene.
- Obtain witness statements as soon as possible. Our investigators usually speak to witnesses and get statements within days of the incident.
- Talk to the investigating officer and obtain copies of the police report. Additionally, the drivers may handwrite their accounts of the accident, which we can obtain as well.
- Get copies of criminal charges and monitor the case, if applicable. At times, we even attend criminal proceedings, especially if we represent the next of kin in a wrongful death claim. This is usually necessary in cases involving drunk driving accidents, although the at-fault driver may face other types of charges as well.
- Document our client’s injuries. We can take photos of your injuries and help you keep written records of pain levels and other details.
- Determine if any video of the scene exists. If any video footage is available from nearby businesses, our attorneys can obtain and save it. This must be done quickly, as businesses may record over or destroy past footage after a few days or weeks.
- Document the layout of the crash site. This gives us immediate insight into the landscape and design of the road.
- Request evidence from opposing parties. Sometimes, insurance adjusters and/or defense attorneys obtain videos and other evidence that can help you, the plaintiff. We can send an official notice to them, requiring preservation of this evidence.
How are Truck Accident Investigations Different?
Our accident lawyers take particular care in investigating trucking wrecks. These kinds of accidents require special attention to detail and usually involve serious personal injuries or wrongful death. Our investigation usually involves taking all the same measures that we would after any car crash, in addition to:
- Sending duty to preserve letters to the trucking company. By notifying the truck company of your intent to seek compensation, we impose a legal duty on that company to preserve all data and evidence regarding the vehicle and the driver.
- Hiring truck accident reconstruction experts. Accident reconstruction can be very valuable, especially if we have no independent witnesses. For example, in one wrongful death case our law firm handled, an accident reconstructionist was key to our successful $840,000 settlement.
What Evidence is Important for Cases Involving Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents can be difficult to prove, especially if the hazardous condition that caused your fall is easily remedied, like a spill. However, most businesses now have video surveillance to protect against theft, which can help prove liability. For slip and fall cases, our attorneys will:
- Obtain photos of scene and your injuries.
- Take statements from witnesses.
- Request any applicable video surveillance footage.
- Investigate lighting issues.
- Obtain a copy of the incident report filed by the owner of the business.
- Determine what caused the unsafe condition which caused the injury.
- Find if owner or occupier of the premises did anything to warn customers of the dangerous condition.
- Determine if the premises had a condition that violated of any building or premises codes required by the city or county.
- Determine if our client contributed to the accident.
In North Carolina, an injured party is barred from recovery if he/she contributes by his/her own negligence to his/her injury. In other words, if you fail to see what a reasonable and ordinary person should see and you are injured, then you may not be able to recover any compensation for your injuries. We understand this law and we tailor our investigation to get all the facts to help you prove your case.
How Does a Lawyer Investigate Construction Site Accidents?
Our accident lawyers have also handled numerous cases on behalf of workers injures in construction site accidents. In general, our investigation of these types of accidents follows the same steps as a slip and fall accident case. However, we pay particular attention to determining the cause of the accident.
Construction sites usually have many contractors or sub-contractors, and at times, have many people on the site at one time. Identifying and then locating the responsible party can be challenging when no one talks after the accident for fear of being held accountable. In some cases, the injured party has grounds for a workers compensation claim, too. If so, then the insurance company for his employer can help us identify and locate the negligent party. In this situation, our client will have two claims, one against the negligent third party who caused the accident and a second case for workers compensation benefits. We usually help with both cases.
What Evidence is Important for Dog Bites and Animal Attack Cases?
Our attorneys have also handled numerous dog bite claims over the last 30 years. Generally, these cases are fairly simple. However, evidence may disappear quickly, so the sooner we can begin an investigation after an incident, the better. We stress the following types of evidence:
- Immediate photos of injuries.
- Photos of the dog or animal (we have even handled cases involving cat and monkey bites).
- Photos of the location of the attack.
- Report from animal control or other law enforcement agency.
- Information about the owner or possessor of the dog.
- Witness testimony, including testimony from neighbors about the animal’s history.
North Carolina dog bite laws generally require animal owners to take reasonable steps to ensure their pets do not cause harm. However, if you sustain injuries from a dog or other animal, then you generally must demonstrate that the owner knew or should have known that the animal had shown a propensity to be vicious in the past. In other words, had the animal shown aggressive behavior in the past? Thus, in addition to this evidence, our attorneys will find answers to certain questions concerning liability, including:
- Did the bite occur on private property or public property?
- Did the bite occur at an apartment that allowed for pets?
- Was the animal on the dangerous dog registry?
- Did law enforcement or animal control charge the owner/possessor of the dog with violating any leash laws?
- Has the dog attacked before?
- Does the owner of the property or animal owner have insurance coverage?
Questions about Evidence Preservation? Call Our North Carolina Accident Lawyers Now
In summary, the evidence that may be important to any case includes:
- Photographs of scene and injuries
- All law enforcement or incident reports
- All witness statements
- Charges against the defendant and criminal proceedings, if applicable
- Criminal background checks on defendant
The accident lawyers at Riddle & Brantley work with experienced investigators to obtain all possible evidence for every case we handle. If you or a loved one needs legal representation for an injury claim, then contact our law firm as soon as possible. The sooner we can start working to gather evidence, the stronger your claim will be. We have offices throughout North Carolina, including in Raleigh, Goldsboro, Jacksonville and Kinston, for your convenience. Call (800) 525-7111 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your case.