This handy guide discusses the importance of evidence in a road traffic accident claim. Find out how and what evidence you should make sure you collect in the unfortunate event you have an accident.
There are two aspects to any personal injury claim:-
Liability – Is there someone to blame against whom a claim can be made successfully.
Quantum – The value of the claim based on the nature and severity of the injury and any losses or expenses arising from the injury.
If we are unable to prove that another person is liable for the accident then there is no claim and the question of the value of the claim becomes irrelevant.
What happened to cause the accident is of course of the greatest importance but what is of equal importance is being able to prove what happened – in other words having evidence.
Making sure you have a successful claim starts with what you do in the immediate aftermath of an accident. The steps that you can take to make sure that you can be compensated for the injuries that someone else has caused you varies depending on the type of accident.
The most important information that I need in order to pursue a claim for a client is the name and address of the other person involved and the registration of the vehicle.
It is difficult as you will inevitably be shocked and shaken up by what has just happened, but it is vital that as much information as possible is gathered accurately at the scene of the accident.
Get the other drivers details and make sure that they are written down accurately. Witnesses are surprisingly rare in motor accidents as other drivers tend to drive away but if you are lucky enough to have a witness then get their details.
There is a very useful piece of equipment these days that did not exist when I first started as a solicitor and that is the mobile phone! Most modern mobile phones take excellent photographs. Use you mobile phone to take pictures of the other vehicle, its registration number, its position especially if it hasn’t been moved since the accident and any damage to the other vehicle.
Don’t forget to also take photographs of your own vehicle showing its position in relation to the other vehicle and any damage to your vehicle.
Use your phone to call the police particularly in more serious accidents or if the other person is being un-cooperative. Unfortunately the police often won’t attend if there is no immediate sign of injury to the parties involved but if they do come out and prepare a police accident report this can be vital evidence when dealing with liability.
By all means ask the person who has caused the accident for their insurance details but often people don’t actually know their insurance details and don’t have their insurance documents with them. This is generally not a problem since as a solicitor I have access to the Motor Insurers Database. With the registration number and the date of the accident I can do a search and usually this will give me all the insurance details for the other driver’s insurers.
If you are involved in an accident on a bus there is other information that is useful. Keep your ticket as proof that you were travelling on that bus at the time. If you are aware that you have been injured at the time report this to the driver. Get the drivers name and driver number and be ready to describe the driver.
As with any motor accident get the registration number of the bus but also the route number.
If possible get details of any witnesses and use your mobile phone to photograph any damage to the bus.
I had a case once where a bus drove into some railings, the passengers got off and the bus drove away! Fortunately my client had photographed the damage to the front of the bus and the railings before the bus drove away. The bus company claimed to have no report of the incident and without the client’s photographs as evidence the claim could well have failed!
In most road traffic accidents the issue of liability is straight forward but even the simplest accident can be made complicated if the basic information about the person responsible is not available.
In more complicated accidents evidence may be crucial in enabling a claim to be successful.
The most extreme form of evidence gathering that I have come across are motorcyclists who have web cams attached to their helmets. These record the whole journey and if, for example, an accident is caused by another vehicle pulling out on the motorcyclist (a very common cause of motorcycle accidents) the whole incident is captured on the camera. This of course assumes that the camera survives the accident!
As with any accident if you are involved in a road traffic accident and want to discuss if you have a possible claim just give me a call and I will be happy to discuss it. Call me on 0191 375 3938 there is no charge and no obligation just useful advice!