When an accident occurs, the last thing an injured party considers is the potential evidence that might be needed for a claim or lawsuit.  Usually, many things are taking place at once, whether it be a car wreck or a slip and fall.  Emergency Medical Services might be contacted and on the way to evacuate injured.  Police might be showing up to gather statements from parties and witnesses.  Loved ones may be showing up to care for injured loved ones.  The injured person is thinking about the consequences of the injury, and what must be done to handle life commitments while being treated:  Care of children, work absence, etc.  It's only when the dust settles that the injured party will usually start thinking about the issue of evidence. Unfortunately, in some cases it might be too late to gather critical evidence. It's important to consider the issue of evidence before an accident takes place, and that's what this article covers.
    Arguably, the most important bits of evidence to consider are an official memorialization of the incident, and the corresponding medical memorialization of evaluation and treatment. One should always consider having law enforcement produce at least an FR10 (done by law enforcement for use by insurance companies) about the accident for insurance purposes, and push for an accident report. In the case of a slip and fall, having the store fill out an accident report memorialization (and get a copy!) is critical. Ensure to ask that any video be preserved.  Additionally, it's important to quickly obtain medical notes and billing statements about the injuries associated with the accident. 
    Witness statements are important, as outside witnesses lend credibility to one's version of events.  Parties will be assumed to be biased, but non-party witnesses are assumed to be unbiased. They should be people who have actually witnessed the accident.  Those who have only heard from another about the accident would be barred by hearsay rules.  The exception is when a party admits to at least some liability.  The person who has heard a "party admission" can testify about that admission in court (note:  That's a reason insurance companies tell clients not to "admit" liability at the scene of an accident.  They may be wrong, but that admission will be part of the evidence, and can sink any case).  Ensure to get point of contact information for witnesses whenever feasible.
      Lastly, it's important to know about new technology which can act as evidence with high accuracy and credibility.  One example is the vehicle "black box" (vehicle recorder), which gives a precise information of almost everything associated with the vehicle.  When someone has been rear-ended, his black box will tell the speed of the rear-ending vehicle at the point of impact (and whether the vehicle being rear-ended was stationary, for how long, or speed if it was moving).  It can tell whether passengers were wearing seat belts.  It can even tell exactly who fast the rear-ended vehicle was pushed and for how far.  It can tell if the vehicle was tilted, and in what direction.  The black box can basically make or break a personal injury claim or defense with the information obtained.  It's important to get hold of the black box at the earliest, as totally vehicles could be quickly cannibalized, and the Black box lost.  Video technology has increased to where videos should be assumed to be almost ubiquitous. Stores, street corners, lights, etc. etc.  Video technology allows for accurate and critical evidence for cases.
        Think about this now, and if the worst happens you will not be caught short.

Bill Connor Orangeburg Attorney Bill Connor received his Bachelor of Arts from The Citadel in 1990, and after serving for over a decade as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, including three deployments to the Middle East, he received his Juris Doctorate from The University of South Carolina in 2005. In 2012, Bill was honored to receive an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, the top peer rating for American lawyers. Receiving this rating at such an early point in his career is unheard of among lawyers.

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