[This article was pulbished on Jan 27, 2020 and updated October 9, 2020.]
After you have been injured in a car accident, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers will use the evidence you gather, as well as evidence we gather during our investigation, to build a strong case on your behalf and fight for the full compensation you deserve. Because many car accidents are caused by the negligent or careless driving of another motorist, you should also obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. This is especially relevant if the accident incapacitated you for a time, your medical bills are substantial, and/or you sustained a disability or disfiguring injury.
Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that you are eligible for certain, limited, or PIP benefits for your medical bills and lost earnings if injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. But for you to recover any additional compensation against the responsible party, you must have sustained either of the following:
- Permanent injury
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Medical bills and/or lost wages that exceed $10,000
If you meet any of these threshold requirements, then you can bring third-party action that includes compensation for medical costs and lost income as well as for pain and suffering.
Elements of a West Palm Beach Car Accident Claim
As the injured party, you have the burden of producing the evidence necessary to support all the elements of your claim. For a car accident, these elements are:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care – Keeping a proper lookout, driving prudently, and obeying all traffic laws.
- The defendant breached that duty of care to you – Defendant failed to stop for a red light or stop sign, made an unsafe or unlawful turn, drove at an excessive speed, or traveled the wrong way on a one-way street.
- The accident was the cause of your injuries – Seeking medical attention for treatment and confirmation that your injuries were caused by the accident.
- You sustained an injury and damages – You must provide evidence of all the damages you are claiming such as medical expenses, lost income, lost time from school, loss of earning capacity, and paid and suffering.
To have a compensable third-party injury claim, your evidence must satisfy all of these elements by the standard of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that it is more likely than not that the evidence proves that particular element.
Evidence Needed to Prove A Car Accident
- Pictures You Take at the Scene of the Accident
After your wreck, you should do your best to take as many pictures as you can at the scene of the car accident. Use your smartphone to snap photos of the damage to both cars, the collision itself, your injuries, road and weather conditions, nearby traffic control devices like traffic lights and stop signs, and other elements that may have led to the wreck.
In addition, get a picture of the license plate of the other car. If possible, take a photo of the other driver’s license as well. That way, the other driver can’t say later on that they weren’t involved in the accident. At the very least, exchange insurance information with the other driver. You should also try to get contact information from any witnesses you can find.
- All Records of Your Treatment
It is vitally important you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your West Palm Beach car accident. Ideally, you should call for an ambulance at the scene of the wreck. That way, you can be evaluated by a medical professional without delay. At the scene, the EMTs can help you determine if you need to get emergency care.
If it’s determined you don’t need emergency care, you should still visit your doctor as soon as possible to be evaluated for further injuries. Your doctor and the emergency room staff can create a record of all of your injuries and treatments that were prescribed to you. This can be vital to your case.
- Expenses You Incurred
The most common compensation awarded in car accident cases is for real economic losses you suffered as a result of the wreck. In order to prove these damages, you will need to show evidence that you lost real money. This may include your medical bills, invoices for car repairs, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, pay stubs to show lost wages, and more.
Under Florida’s PIP no-fault insurance laws, you can only seek compensation if your expenses are above $10,000. While this seems like a high standard, consider the fact that hospital bills can run up to $50,000 to $100,000 or more if you suffer serious injuries. Keeping records of all of your bills and expenses can help your West Palm Beach car accident lawyer formulate a number to present to the insurance company in terms of compensation.
- Official Records of the Wreck
Finally, you can gather official records of the accident, with the help of your lawyer if necessary. When you call the police after your collision, they will create an official report of the incident. It’s within your rights to get a copy of this police report and ask for any corrections that may need to be made. This is one of the most important piece of car accident evidence.
In West Palm Beach, you can request a copy of the report by calling (561) 822-1900 or e-mailing your request to [email protected]. Or, you can visit the Records Department at 600 Banyan Boulevard, WPB, FL 33401.
Medical Treatment Evidence
Lastly, you must provide evidence of all the damages you are claiming. This usually includes medical expenses, lost income, lost time from school, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. What evidence is needed to support these claims?
- Medical expenses – You or your attorney will need copies of your medical bills. If your case goes to trial, a physician can testify and explain more about treatment and why these costs are reasonable.
- Medical treatment – Records of your treatment and an explanation of what was performed are required. The treating physician can testify or provide a report that your treatment was reasonable and necessary for the injuries you sustained. If applicable, your doctor can also state that it is highly likely that you will need future medical treatment.
- Nature and extent of injuries – Your treating physician or specialist can provide a report or testimony regarding the seriousness of your injury, if the injury is permanent, and what physical restrictions you now have. For psychological injuries, a psychologist or psychiatrist can testify as to your depression, frustration, PTSD, or drug addiction.
- Lost income – You will need a physician to state that your injuries prohibit you from performing your work for a certain time. Your employment records indicating your wages or salary, benefits, and lost time from work are used to calculate your lost income. If you are incapable of returning to your job, a forensic economist can calculate your lost income. For students who lost a semester or year(s) of school, the economist can provide a reasonable estimate of your lost income because your injury delayed your entry into the job market.
- Pain and suffering – You and your spouse can provide testimony about how the injury has caused you sleeplessness, daily pain, anxiety, and depression. You may be unable to perform certain routine daily activities or can no longer engage in recreational pastimes such as golf, tennis, jogging, dancing, gardening, or other pursuits. A psychologist can support a claim of psychological damage by testifying about your depression, anxiety, PTSD, or addiction to pain medication.
Speak to a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Today
Call the law firm of Steinger, Greene & Feiner if you suffered injuries in a car accident. We will have a highly experienced car accident lawyer from West Palm Beach handle your case from its inception to a satisfactory conclusion.
If you have been in a car wreck, there is a lot you can do to help your lawyer build a strong case on your behalf. However, they will investigate to gather their own evidence as well. With evidence gathered by you and your lawyer, a strong case could be created to help you get the compensation you deserve. Need help collecting car accident evidence? Speak to a professional.