When a car accident happens in Tampa, those involved are going to be shaken and confused about what to do next. In these moments, it is important to remember that the evidence they gather can become crucial to what happens in the future. Immediate evidence helps them establish fault, prove their damages, and file a claim against any at-fault drivers.
Help Gathering Evidence
Gathering evidence is important both immediately after the accident occurs and in the days and weeks following the accident. Someone who has been hurt in a Tampa car accident will want two main forms of evidence:
- Evidence of the wreck itself
- Evidence of their medical costs and other expenses
Hiring a Tampa car accident lawyer can make gathering evidence easier. Steinger, Greene & Feiner has an experienced car accident attorney in Tampa to assist with your claim, help you gather the right documentation, and investigate the circumstances of your accident.
If you have recently been in an accident in Hillsborough County, make sure to gather the following forms of evidence to strengthen your case.
Information from Involved Drivers and Witnesses
The most important thing to document after any accident is the other driver’s contact information and insurance policy information.
Many Tampa car accident victims make the mistake of letting others involved drive off without taking down their information or calling the police. They may think they are not hurt now, only to realize later that they have an injury.
To prevent this scenario, always get the driver’s information. Ask to see their actual insurance card, and see if they would be willing to let you see their driver’s license, as well. With their permission, you can take a photo of both. You may also want a photo of the vehicle’s license plate.
Eyewitness testimony can be a key component of car accident cases, especially ones where fault is disputed. If there were any witnesses to your accident, ask them if they would be willing to make a statement and/or provide you with their contact information for later use.
Optionally, you can record a statement from them on your phone and ask them to recite their contact information at the end.
A Police Report
Always call 911 or the main number of the closest precinct to report your accident. An officer can perform a preliminary investigation.
Florida law (§316.066) requires individuals to report their accident any time there is an injury, a suspected injury, a death, or damage that renders a vehicle inoperable. Even if you do not think your accident qualifies for any of these, you still want an official record of the accident from an authoritative source.
When police arrive, remain calm. Do not directly accuse others of fault, and do not openly admit fault yourself. Answer all questions truthfully, and recall the events immediately before and during the accident with as much accuracy as possible. If you cannot remember fully, do not speculate or “fill in the blanks” in your memory. Simply say: “I don’t quite remember those exact details.”
Car Accident Scene Photos
Photos of the accident scene can be a crucial part of reconstructing the accident as it actually happened.
Florida law requires you to move your vehicles as soon as possible after an accident if it can be done safely. However, you will want to have photos of the accident scene before it is disturbed, presuming you can safely take photos.
Priority photos to get include a wide photo of both vehicles, angled photos showing each vehicle’s trajectory, and close-ups of the main point of impact. Having photos with a landmark or fixed background object can also help establish exactly where the accident happened.
Once you move the vehicles, you will want further photos. Get photos of your injuries immediately after they were inflicted. Take shots of your vehicle and its damage from multiple angles. Photos of large pieces of debris can also prove helpful, especially if you have a dollar bill or another familiar object included as a size reference.
Comprehensive Medical Reports
Establishing fault is just one component of a car accident claim. You also need to prove that your injuries and resulting damages were directly related to the accident. Additionally, the total cost of the injury must be known and documented.
In the 12 to 48 hours after your accident, visit the emergency room or a doctor’s office. Describe all of your symptoms in exact detail, including any pain or difficulty making certain movements. Ensure that these symptoms are listed on your medical documentation.
Consent to all tests and diagnostic procedures needed to fully diagnose your condition. Request a copy of your discharge papers, and review them for mistakes or inaccuracies before you leave the provider facility.
Be sure to follow all doctor’s orders, including filling needed prescriptions or buying necessary devices. Attend all follow-up appointments on schedule.
A Copy of All Your Medical Bills and Accident Expenses
Keep a copy of every single bill, invoice, and receipt related to your accident. This includes all materials from the care provider and the pharmacy. If you buy over-the-counter items to address your medical condition, such as first aid products, save those receipts, too.
Certain out-of-pocket expenses may be included as part of your total accident damages. Examples include parking fees for provider facilities and transportation costs to get to your appointments.
Remember: it’s always better to keep a receipt you may not need. You can throw it away if the expense isn’t claimable, but you may not be able to get a new one if it was.
A Pain and Discomfort Journal
Some accident cases involve non-financial damages, such as pain and suffering. These cases can present a problem: how do you prove pain and suffering? And how do you quantify it?
While there is no perfect method, the best one available is to document your experience on a day-to-day basis. This acts as a running log of your non-financial damages while also providing specific examples of how they affected your life.
Buy a cheap journal (keep the receipt!) and make a daily log with the date and any symptoms you experienced. Each log can be short, but try to be specific. Mention activities that were painful or difficult, as well as experiences like difficulty falling asleep.
As a side note, avoid posting about your activities publicly on social media or other online spaces until you’ve healed. Photos of something as simple as attending a family picnic can be used to allege that you did not have as much pain and suffering as you claim.
A Tampa Car Accident Attorney May Hire Expert Witnesses
Your Tampa car accident lawyer might request a statement from an expert witness. These statements provide trusted opinions that can act as evidence or clearly demonstrate cause and effect. Statements may be obtained during discovery, in depositions, or even as testimony in a trial.
“Expert” witnesses are professionals with experience and credentials in their respective fields. Examples include specialist trauma doctors, accident scene investigators, and labor economists.
An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa Can Help
Gathering evidence isn’t easy, and without legal experience, you may miss out on crucial pieces. Hiring a car accident lawyer in Tampa allows you to have the guidance of a legal professional while also giving you access to their resources. Your lawyer can file motions to request documents from the at-fault driver or negotiate to receive an itemized bill from care providers.
Learn what evidence you may need for your case and what your best next steps might be during a free, no-obligation consultation at a law office near you. Call (813) 553-5352 or contact us online to schedule your free case review now.