Accidents happen all the time and they can be quite devastating. You might not worry too much about a fender bender, but if there’s an injury to you or a member of your family, it can be scary and painful at the same time. Not only would you have to worry about replacing your vehicle, injuries can cost a lot of money as well. Not to mention the time lost at work. In this instance, you may consider going to a personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit if the accident wasn’t your fault.
It’s well within your right to seek damages, especially if your insurance company won’t pay to replace your vehicle or cover all of your expenses. There’s even pain-and-suffering to consider. So, what do you need to do to file a lawsuit? What actions do you need to take evidence to pursue to win your case? Let’s take a look at the evidence that you need and the procedure you should follow to win a court case.
If you’re able to, the very first thing you should do is take pictures. Take as many photographs as you possibly can. Don’t just focus on your vehicle, but take pictures of the intersection. Get every possible angle. You also want to make sure that you show the debris leftover from the collision, skid marks that are on the road showing a sudden stop was attempted, and other types of visual markers that might help piece together the entire scene.
You also don’t want to forget grabbing a few photos of a stop sign or other traffic control device that was missed by the other driver. It will go a long way in helping to prove that you had the right-of-way and as such the accident isn’t your fault. At that moment, try to think about what the defense is going to say. They can make all sorts of different claims, and some of them might be true. For example, they may say they couldn’t see your vehicle.
Pictures also help insurance companies determine the full extent of the damage done. If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of the accident, you should document those as well. Do your best to get a full documentation. From the stoplights and signs to your injuries in the shape of your vehicle, don’t forget any part of the process. If you don’t, the lack of evidence would work against you.
Get Witness Testimony to Verify Your Claims
If you weren’t out driving on some dark, lonely highway, the odds are good that someone else saw the accident. They may be a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk or could’ve been the driver behind you. Maybe there was a bunch of cars sitting at that intersection. It will go a long way for your case if you’re able to snag at least one other witness to what happened. Get their name and their phone number.
You should also exchange information with the person who hit you. If the driver doesn’t stop, you should do your best to write down or remember their license plate number. The police officer should always be called and they can always help get this information if the other driver is unwilling. This next point reveals why you should always call the police after an accident.
Obtain Official Records
Official records can definitely help you during your case. By reporting what happened to the police, they will have to write up a report of what happened. They may end up doing their own investigation and report their findings as it happened. The police officer will add in their ideas and assessments of who he or she thinks is at fault. You might not agree with every single detail written in the report, but it does offer a professional opinion on the matter.
Some states actually require you to send your own accident report and file it with the DMV. Both parties would do this, so you will have access to their driving report which you can compare to yours and the one written up by the officer. You might find that their own report contradicts a report they either gave to the police or that the officer wrote down. That would bode really well for your own testimony.
Now let’s take a quick look at filing the lawsuit.
File a Complaint
Your first step in this process is filing a complaint with the court. Some states call this a petition, but either way, you must issue this complaint with the court. The complaint itself is a written document that lays out everything that happened point by point. In this document, the paragraphs would be numbered and you would have to share all the details, such as the damages are claiming and the legal basis for you to be issuing a lawsuit in the first place.
The Defendant is Served
Once the lawsuit has been filed with the court, the defendant will then get a notice which is really a major part of the US legal system. The defendant must know that they are going to be called to defend themselves in a legal proceeding. They have a right to know what is being claimed against them so that they have the opportunity to provide a legal defense. Also, there are special rules for how someone is served, to make sure it’s being done properly.
The Defendant Replies
Once the defendant gets word that they are to appear at a hearing, they’ll get an opportunity to respond to your complaint. They may decide to accept the allegations or deny them. They may accept some and deny others. Either way, they get an opportunity to share their perspective of what happened.
The Discovery Process
For the lawsuit to go forward, both sides will have to exchange information with each other. This information might just be evidence gathered from both sides. You both will get a chance to see all the evidence for all the accusations laid out.
Finally, the process will then go to trial. This will happen on both sides are confident in their cases. Each of you gets the chance to make your opening statement, present evidence, and ask questions. Once this is complete, the judge and/or jury will reach a verdict in the manner and issue a judgment.