Evidence to Preserve After an Injury Case in California

January 5, 2024 Personal injury

No one begins their day expecting it to end in the hospital but unexpected injuries occur in an instant, sending around 40 million people to the emergency room in the U.S. each day. When an injury is preventable and only occurs due to someone else’s careless or reckless actions, it’s even more distressing. If a serious injury results in mounting medical bills at the same time that you’re unable to return to work due to injuries, treatments, and recovery time, a successful personal injury claim can recover compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. But first, it’s the injury victim’s duty to prove that the at-fault party’s actions caused the injury and that they’ve suffered significant economic and non-economic damages from the injury.

California’s personal injury law requires proving negligence by a preponderance of the evidence so many injury victims ask, “How do I preserve evidence after a personal injury in California?”

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Preserving Evidence at the Scene of the Injury

Injuries send a life spinning off course in an instant. If you’ve suffered a severe injury, you may be able to do little other than wait in place for help, but if you can move safely enough to use your phone—or hand it to someone else to use for you—you can protect yourself physically and also preserve critical evidence to recover damages later. Taking the following steps before leaving the scene can streamline your case later for a fast financial recovery while you focus on your physical recovery:

  • First, call 911 to report the injury and request emergency services, including the police for a car accident or an act of violence
  • Then, use your phone’s camera to take photos and/or videos of the scene, including anything relevant to the accident like a loose carpet in a slip-and-fall case, the product in a defective product claim, or the damaged vehicles in a car accident case
  • Take photos of any visible injuries
  • Ask the property owner to fill out an accident report or ask for a police report
  • Add the contact information of anyone involved such as another driver or a business owner
  • Add the contact information of eyewitnesses
  • Record your memory of what happened while it’s fresh since trauma can fade memories later
  • Accept emergency transportation to the hospital

Injury victims should always seek medical evaluations and treatment immediately after the injury so there is clear evidence that the injury occurred in the accident or incident you’ve documented.

Documenting Evidence in the Days Following an Injury

At the hospital, be sure to undergo a complete examination and tell the doctor about every symptom, even the minor ones. Some injuries aren’t very noticeable right away but develop symptoms in the hours and days after an accident. Then, ask for a detailed medical report showing your injuries, the doctor’s recommendations for your treatment, and your prognosis for recovery.

You should also keep the clothes you were wearing when the injury occurred. Torn or damaged clothing can be convincing evidence in an injury claim.

Many injury victims keep a journal or daily log of their medical treatments and pain levels after an injury. This provides key evidence of the impact of the injury on the victim’s daily life.

Be Proactive About Preserving Evidence

In many injury claims, there is important third-party evidence available immediately after the accident that may not be there later. For instance, businesses erase surveillance camera footage after a specific period. If an injury occurs in a business, it’s important to ask for a copy of the footage as soon as possible.

By hiring a personal injury lawyer in Encino, they can issue formal requests for evidence like camera footage from a third party. A lawyer can send a third party an anti-spoilation letter compelling them to preserve evidence that’s relevant to your case.

Because insurance companies protect their profits, it’s necessary to provide ample evidence proving the negligence that caused your injury and the damages you’ve suffered due to the injury.

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