What Should I Know About Car Accident Evidence?
June 10, 2021
If someone is injured in a car accident, the degree to which they are found to be at fault may affect the amount of damages they can legally claim to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering for any personal injuries. Determination of fault often hinges on evidence collected at the scene. A qualified, experienced car accident lawyer may use many types of evidence to establish fault and negotiate fair recovery for injured clients. Individuals who are involved in a car accident can help build a stronger case by collecting as much evidence as possible at the scene if they are able to do so.
What Types of Evidence can be Used to Determine Fault in a Car Accident?
There are many types of evidence that can be used to determine fault in a car accident, including the following:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Photos of nearby traffic devices
- Police reports
- Eyewitness accounts
- Event data recorder (EDR) information
- Cell phone records
- Vehicle manufacturer records including recalls
- Information about weather conditions at the time
- Medical records
- Driver logs, maintenance records, and other work records, especially if commercial vehicles were involved
Optimally, photos of the accident scene should be taken before vehicles are moved, showing damage to the car as well as accident debris on the road and other road conditions. Individuals involved in the accident who are able to do so can help build a stronger insurance claim by taking as many photos as possible before police arrive. Getting statements from eyewitnesses on the spot can be extremely helpful, as important details may be forgotten later. Accident victims themselves may not remember everything because of the shock and biological response of trauma.
What Types of Evidence are Collected by EDRs?
Many models of cars and trucks manufactured after 2014 are equipped with event data recorders (EDRs). The types of evidence collected by EDRs include but are not limited to the following:
- Vehicle speed and other pre-crash data
- Use of brakes during the accident
- Weight of vehicle occupants in the front seat
- Crash force/delta force forward and lateral
- Use and deployment of seat belts and airbags
- Post-crash data including activation of an automatic collision notification system, if it exists
It is important to note that this information is recorded only for just a few seconds before, during, and after a collision. Also, EDRs typically do not capture audio and video information, although many commercial trucks and other vehicles may be equipped with separate video captures.
Although the amount of information provided by an EDR may be limited, it can be very useful in determining fault. For example, EDR data may be used to prove that a driver stopped short of rear-ending a vehicle ahead but then hit it seconds later after being struck in the rear in a multi-vehicle crash. This type of information can be crucial in determining fault. Delta force statistics can also help prove the severity of injuries suffered by passengers.
What Privacy Laws Govern EDR Data?
The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 is a federal law privacy governing EDR data. It states that EDR data belongs to the person who owns or leases the vehicle. However, courts have the right to obtain a driver’s EDR data if it is needed as evidence in a legal case. Persons authorized to carry out federal investigations or inspections may also have the right to demand that a driver provide EDR data.
Some states also have laws addressing EDR data. In New Jersey, N.J. Statute § 39:10B-7 to -9 prohibits knowingly destroying an EDR device or altering or deleting its data with the intent to prevent access to information within two years after an accident that resulted in death or bodily injury.
How Does Fault Affect Insurance Payments After a Car Accident?
Insurance companies decide how much money they will pay out to car accident victims based on state laws, evidence from the accident, and what a jury may decide, should a personal injury case go to trial. Each state defines negligence differently.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey use modified comparative negligence in determining payments. That means that individuals can be up to 50 percent at fault for an accident and still receive some payment from the other driver’s insurance company for damages. However, the amount of payment will be reduced by the percentage at which the individual was at fault. In some other states that use pure negligence, individuals may receive no compensation at all from the other driver’s insurance company if the accident was deemed to be even partly their fault.
Also in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, individuals have only two years from the date of the accident to file their case. Most cases settle out of court once the insurance companies on both sides are aware of all of the facts in the case. This is because going to trial can be costly for insurers. Insurance companies are aware of how juries may be empathetic to accident victims and are usually willing to negotiate with plaintiffs, provided they are represented by experienced and capable lawyers who have the resources to present evidence and build a strong case.
How Does Galfand Berger LLP Help Individuals Injured in Car Accidents?
The car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP help individuals injured in car accidents by doing the following:
- Listening carefully to what the client experienced during and after the accident
- Thoroughly reviewing all client-provided evidence
- Launching an investigation to uncover any and all additional evidence
- Examining all factors to estimate the true cost of recovery, including lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and any potential cost of long-term rehabilitation as well as current medical bills
- Leveraging deep legal skill to negotiate with insurers
- Working will determination and persistence to achieve the best possible outcome
Oftentimes, individuals who have been in a car accident are unaware of the full extent of the financial impact of a serious accident, which may persist for years. This is why it is so important to retain an experienced lawyer who has the ability to not only estimate but also obtain full recovery for damages.
Galfand Berger LLP has successfully handled hundreds of personal injury claims over the years for clients injured at work or in car accidents, including the following two examples:
- $3 million settlement in tractor trailer accident. A detailed investigation conducted by Galfand Berger lawyers produced various types of evidence demonstrating negligence on the part of the the trucking company, resulting in a multi-million-dollar recovery for the injured client.
- $1 million verdict in automobile accident. The defending insurance company attempted to get the client to accept a much lower settlement. Galfand Berger LLP took the case to trial, and the jury awarded $1 million to the client based on the evidence presented.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Leverage All Available Evidence to Obtain Justice for Their Clients
Individuals who have been in a car accident can help protect their rights by gathering evidence at the scene if they have the ability to do so. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP leverage all available evidence to ensure their clients obtain fair recovery of damages. If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious accident, reach out to our team today. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.