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How to Document Evidence After a Personal Injury

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Archive: Oct 2020

How to Document Evidence After a Personal Injury

Evidence in a personal injury case is what you will use to prove your claim. You will need enough evidence to establish someone else’s fault or liability for your accident and injury. Knowing what evidence to collect after a personal injury, and how to improperly collect it, could help you build a stronger claim.

Types of Evidence

Evidence can help you recover compensation from an insurance company by proving its policyholder’s fault for your accident. If your case goes to trial, you or your personal injury lawyer will need to present evidence to a judge or jury. The burden of proof during a civil claim is a preponderance of the evidence. This means an amount of evidence to prove the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your accident. There are four main types of evidence.

  1. Real evidence. Real evidence is evidence from the scene of the accident that you can see and touch. It may include your damaged vehicle, a defective product, or other material items the jury can hold and inspect.
  2. Testimonial evidence. Testimonial evidence comes in the form of statements from witnesses. It typically describes both statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident and statements from expert witnesses hired to speak on a certain subject.
  3. Documentary evidence. Documentary evidence is anything that helps to document a defendant’s liability. It can refer to photographs, videos, police reports, medical records, insurance policies and other documents relevant to the case.
  4. Demonstrative evidence. Demonstrative evidence refers to displays of a defendant’s fault. Common examples are animations, diagrams and similar technologies.

These are the four main evidence types during a personal injury case in California. Many others exist as well, however. Not all types of evidence are equal in terms of importance during an injury case. A jury will weigh the relevance of each piece of evidence submitted to determine whether it is enough to prove the defendant’s liability.

What Evidence to Document for a Personal Injury Claim

If you sustain an injury in an accident in California, act immediately to preserve key evidence. It is critical to identify, protect and collect the evidence that will be necessary for you to prove your claim. Without enough evidence, you will be unable to hold the defendant liable for your injuries. Start gathering evidence while still at the scene of the accident, if possible. Make it a priority to continue collecting evidence leading up to your claim.

  • Photographs from the scene of the accident
  • Video surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness information
  • Your police report number
  • Copies of your medical records
  • Pay stubs and lost wage records
  • Personal injury journal
  • Testimony from friends and family members
  • Statements and opinions from subject-matter experts
  • Repair estimate from an auto shop

This is not a comprehensive list of all types of evidence that may be available during your personal injury claim. Document anything you believe is relevant to your case – especially information that could prove another party’s liability for your accident. If you need assistance gathering evidence while you are in the hospital, contact an attorney.

When to Call an Attorney

Without the right evidence, you will not have grounds for a personal injury claim in California. Do not underestimate the importance of collecting evidence. Hire a personal injury lawyer in Orange County to help you meet the evidentiary standard. An attorney can immediately make calls and issue subpoenas to preserve key evidence, such as cellphone records and surveillance footage. Your attorney can create a case file to keep all claim information organized. When it is time to present your evidence, your lawyer can use advanced tools and technologies to make clear demonstrations. Contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible for assistance with evidence during a personal injury claim.

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How Is Liability Determined in a Personal Injury Case?

Liability on a legal level means accountability for an accident or injury. In California, the civil courts will have a negligent party answer for his or her actions by holding that party liable for an injured victim’s damages. If an accident in California injures you, you will bring a personal injury case against the party you believe is liable for causing your accident. Understanding how an insurance company or the courts determine liability in a personal injury case could help you navigate the legal process.

State Liability Laws

Liability for an injury will not always go to the party at fault for an accident. While this is the most common scenario, liability laws in some states hold other parties financially responsible for accidents. In no-fault car insurance states, for example, liability for a car accident will go to each driver’s insurance company, regardless of fault. If you live in a no-fault state, you could be liable for your own injuries and damages, even if you did not cause the crash. California, however, is a fault state. Under California’s liability law, the person or party who committed an act of negligence and caused the accident or injury will be liable for damages.

California is also a pure comparative negligence state. Under this liability law, you and the defendant could both share financial responsibility for an accident. If the courts believe you and the defendant are both to blame, they will allocate a percentage of fault to you as well. Under California’s comparative negligence rule, your percentage of fault will reduce your recovery award accordingly. The defendant will only be liable for the percentage of fault assigned to him or her. You would be liable for the rest.


In California, before someone will give you compensation for your injuries and damages, you will need to prove that person’s liability. Unless a special exception applies to your case, you or your Orange County personal injury lawyer will need to establish that the defendant was negligent based on a demonstration of evidence. Proving negligence typically requires four elements: duty, breach, causation and damages. Establishing these elements requires a preponderance of the evidence; enough evidence to establish the defendant’s liability as more likely than not to be true.

  • Photographs
  • Crash reconstruction
  • Witnesses
  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Expert testimony

Evidence during a personal injury case can refer to anything that demonstrates someone’s fault for the accident and injury. Evidence is a critical part of your claim. It is what will allow you to prove someone else’s liability. You may also be able to establish a personal injury case on the grounds of negligence per se, intent to harm or strict liability. These are other liability laws that may not require proof of the same four elements as a standard negligence case. A strict liability lawsuit, for example, does not require you to prove the defendant’s negligence to establish liability.

Settlement vs. Personal Injury Trial

Who makes the liability determination will depend on whether your case settles or goes to trial. The majority of personal injury claims in California settle. During a settlement, the insurance company will determine liability. If the insurance company reviews all of the evidence you submitted and determines its policyholder is not liable, it will deny benefits. If an insurance investigation does find the policyholder liable, the insurance company will offer a settlement for your losses.

Some personal injury cases have to go to trial. This is most common for cases with complications, such as liability disputes or catastrophic personal injuries. If your claim goes to trial in California, it will no longer be the insurance company that decides liability. This task will instead go to a jury. The jury will listen to your side of the injury claim as well as the defendant’s side. Then, the jury will determine liability based on who is more likely to have caused the damages in question. For assistance dealing with liability during a personal injury case, contact an experienced attorney.

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The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Whether or not to hire a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make as an injured plaintiff. While the law does not require you to have legal representation, hiring an attorney can be critical to the success of your claim. An attorney will have the experience you lack in personal injury claims. Your lawyer can easily guide you through the legal process and protect your rights. If you are on the fence about hiring a personal injury lawyer for your claim, consider all the benefits it could have.

Zero Financial Risk

First, ask yourself why you do not want to hire an attorney. The most common reason is concerns about cost. Most personal injury law firms operate on a contingency fee basis, however. This setup is specifically designed to make legal representation affordable for everyone. With this fee system, you will have zero financial risk – win or lose. If your case succeeds, your lawyer will take his or her fees straight from the settlement or verdict won on your behalf rather than billing you directly. That way, you will not have to afford your attorney out of pocket. If you lose, a lawyer working on contingency will not charge you anything for services provided. Hiring the right lawyer could come with zero financial risks.

Answers to Your Legal Questions

Suffering an injury in an accident can be a confusing time. You should be focusing on your injuries, treatments and recovery, not sorting through the complicated legal process. If you hire a personal injury attorney, you gain access to a trusted source of information. Your lawyer can answer all of your legal questions to put your mind at ease during this difficult time. Your lawyer can also explain your rights and make sure no one infringes upon them.

Timely Claims Process

If you want to conclude your claim as quickly and efficiently as possible, hire an attorney. While on your own you may make mistakes that delay claims processing, such as missing an insurance company’s filing deadline, with a lawyer by your side, you will know how to file your claim in a timely and efficient manner. Your lawyer will handle complicated legal matters in a way that can cut time off of your claim. Your lawyer will understand the legal system, your state’s filing requirements and how to follow the proper procedures for a successful outcome – all while avoiding time-consuming delays.

Experience and Knowledge

Having a lawyer on your side during a personal injury claim can ensure you do not miss any important opportunities. The years of experience, legal education and practice-area knowledge that come with an attorney will strengthen your case. Your lawyer will know how to seek maximum compensation on your behalf. From properly calculating the full extent of your damages to negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf, your lawyer will have all of the resources necessary to establish a strong claim.

Optimal Results

One of the main advantages of hiring a personal injury attorney is the ability to elevate your case’s outcome. A lawyer will not agree to settle your case for less than it is worth. Your lawyer will use aggressive negotiation tactics to force the insurance company to offer the full value of your claim. Your lawyer can help you collect evidence of your injuries and losses, as well as prove someone else’s fault, for maximum compensation. With a contingency fee agreement, your lawyer will also be motivated to obtain the highest possible settlement or judgment award for you. The amount you receive in compensation will decide how much the attorney makes in legal fees.

Overall, hiring an Orange County personal injury attorney during your personal injury claim can give you better results for less stress and no financial risk. If you wish to learn more, schedule a free consultation with DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo today.

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Can I Receive Compensation for a Whiplash Injury?

Any injury sustained in a car accident must be taken seriously. Whiplash is often thought of as a minor injury that does not need much attention, but the reality is that this type of injury can lead to significant setbacks for a victim. Here, we want to discuss whether or not you can receive compensation after sustaining whiplash in a vehicle accident. We will also list some basic steps that you can take to help ensure you are treated fairly in the aftermath of a vehicle accident.

Compensation for whiplash injuries in California

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the negligent or careless actions of another driver, you should be able to secure compensation for your losses. This includes coverage of medical bills related to whiplash injuries. While it is true that most vehicle accidents result in relatively minor injuries, the reality is that whiplash can significantly affect a person’s daily life. This type of injury can impact a person’s ability to work or go about conducting daily activities.

The bottom line is that whiplash is a valid car accident injury, and victims should work to secure compensation for their losses.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash injuries

When we turn to the Mayo Clinic to understand the nature of whiplash injuries, we can see they define this as “…a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” This whiplash motion can injure bones in the spine, discs between those bones, as well as muscles, nerves, ligaments, and other tissues in the upper back and neck.

Whiplash is often associated with rear-end vehicle accidents. However, whiplash injuries can occur anytime a person sustains a significant blow to their body, such as sports accidents, falls, physical assaults, etc.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with whiplash injuries include the following:

  • Loss of range of motion in the neck and upper back
  • Neck and upper back pain and stiffness
  • Headaches beginning at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the upper back or shoulders
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Severe whiplash cases can also result in difficulty concentrating, memory problems, blurred vision, sleep disturbances, and more.

You may need to speak to an attorney for help with your case

If you or a loved one have sustained whiplash injuries in a vehicle accident caused by another driver, you may need to work with an attorney who can help obtain the compensation you are entitled to. An Orange County auto accident lawyer will be able to use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the case and determine liability. Your lawyer will handle all communication and negotiations with other parties involved in an effort to obtain fair compensation for your expenses. This can include coverage of medical bills caused by the whiplash, lost income if you cannot work, pain and suffering damages, loss of quality of life damages, and more.

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What if You Are Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

Vehicle accidents are not something any driver or passenger wants to experience. Unfortunately, crashes are not uncommon in and around our area. These cases can become immensely more complicated if you are struck by an uninsured driver. Here, we want to discuss the steps you can take in the aftermath of a crash involving an uninsured driver. These steps can be used for a traditional uninsured motorist accident as well as an accident involving a hit and run driver.

Uninsured driving accidents are not uncommon in California

The reality is that accidents happen all the time. In most cases, the drivers involved all have valid insurance, and the claims are resolved through settlements with the respective carriers. However, data provided by the Insurance Information Institute shows us that approximately 15% of all drivers in California are uninsured (during a recent reporting year). This is a significant percentage of drivers on the roadway.

Data available from the California Office of Traffic Safety shows that there were more than 272,000 total vehicle collision injuries during the latest reporting year across the state. Unfortunately, many of those injured were struck by uninsured drivers and struggled to obtain fair compensation for their losses.

Steps you can take after being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are various steps that you can take to ensure that you are treated fairly and that you have the best chance to receive full compensation for your losses.

  • Seek medical care. In the aftermath of any collision, you need to ensure that you seek medical care. Not only does this establish a link between the crash and your injuries, but it also ensures your well-being.
  • Contact law enforcement. Whether the uninsured driver stayed at the scene of the crash or fled, you need to stay there and contact law enforcement. Let the police conduct an investigation and complete the accident report.
  • Gather evidence. If you can safely do so at the scene, use your smartphone or another camera to take photographs of damages to the vehicles, injuries, causes of the crash, and more. Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash.
  • Report to your insurer. You need to let your insurance carrier know that the collision occurred. You do not have to go into much detail when you make your initial report, but they do need to be notified soon after the crash.
  • Contact an attorney. You may need to speak to an Orange County car accident attorney who can help handle every aspect of your case for you.
  • Continue medical care. Continue all medical treatment recommended by your doctor until they have determined you have reached maximum medical improvement.

Check your uninsured motorist coverage in California

In order for drivers to remain legal on the roadway in California, they must carry the following minimum insurance coverage amounts:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

You will notice that uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not required in California. However, it is highly recommended that all drivers purchase and carry this coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is not overly expensive, and will certainly help you cover medical expenses in property damage in the aftermath of an accident involving an uninsured or hit and run driver.

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Do I Need to Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?

Vehicle accidents are often scary and confusing experiences for those involved. This is particularly true if there have been any injuries or fatalities as a result of the collision. In the aftermath of a crash, most parties involved will be dealing with insurance carriers when it comes to securing compensation for losses. You may be asked to give a recorded statement to an insurance carrier. Here, we want to discuss whether you are required to give a recorded statement and why giving such a statement could harm your personal injury claim.

Is giving a recorded statement to insurance carriers required by California law?

While there are various statutes regarding reporting vehicle accidents after they occur, every driver needs to know that they are not required by law to give a recorded statement to any insurance carriers following a collision. This is important to point out because insurance carriers will certainly try to make it seem like giving a recorded statement is required. You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement, whether to your insurance carrier or to another driver’s insurance carrier.

Can recorded statements be used against you for your personal injury claim?

Recorded statements can, and most certainly will, be used by insurance carriers when working to determine whether they will accept or deny your claim. Insurance carriers can use information that you give them in a recorded statement in a variety of ways.

Most people who are not at fault for a collision think that there is no reason they should not give a recorded statement to the insurance carriers involved. The thought process goes something like, “If I did nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide, right?”

Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions and make conversation in such a way that will get you to admit fault to something without you even realizing you have given them information that can be used against you. Most insurance claims adjusters, even those for the other party involved, are going to seem very friendly. This is a tactic meant to throw you off guard and get you to talk freely about the crash or even just have a casual conversation with them about other topics. You need to understand that there is no such thing as a casual conversation with a claims adjuster, particularly when they are recording every word you make.

The insurance claims adjuster for the other driver involved is likely trying to get you to admit certain things that could place some or all of the fault for the crash on you. They could very subtly try to get you to admit that you did nothing to avoid the collision, even if the other driver was the one that caused it. An insurance claims adjuster may even try to get you to admit facts that are untrue, including getting you to admit that you may have been driving too fast or that you were following the other driver too closely. As soon as you say something in a recorded statement, this information can be used against you.

You should call an attorney for help with your case

From the outset of any personal injury claim you may be involved in, you should consider working with a skilled Orange County personal injury lawyer to assist with your case. By involving an attorney early in the process, you can ensure that they will be the ones speaking to insurance carriers on your behalf.

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What To Do if You’ve Been Rear-Ended in Orange County

Getting into a car accident can be a confusing experience for those involved. This is particularly true when someone sustains an injury. Rear-end collisions may seem cut and dry at first, but the reality is that these incidents can lead to significant complications when it comes to securing compensation for damages. Often, it is simply assumed that the rear driver is going to be at fault in a rear-end collision. That may be the case much of the time, but it is not always true. Here, we want to discuss some things that you can do if you have been in a rear-end collision in Orange County. These steps can help ensure that you are treated fairly, that liability is proven, and that you are adequately compensated if another driver was at fault for the collision.

Common causes of rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions are typically caused by the error of one or more drivers involved. It is true that liability for these claims often falls onto the rear driver. Every driver on the roadway has a responsibility to operate safely, and part of this responsibility is not to follow others too closely. When drivers follow other vehicles too closely (tailgating), they will likely be unable to stop in time or maneuver out of the way should the front driver have to slow down or stop suddenly.

Aside from tailgating, there are other common causes of rear-end collisions in California. This includes:

  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Vehicle defects
  • Failing to obey traffic laws
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Poor roadway conditions

If you are involved in a rear-end collision

If you are involved in a rear-end collision, your first step is to stop the vehicle and check on your passengers. Then, you need to do the following:

  • Seek medical care for any injuries. Regardless of how severe or minor injuries may seem, you need to ensure you and others are evaluated by a trusted medical professional.
  • Contact law enforcement officials. Make sure that law enforcement officials come to the scene to conduct a preliminary investigation and complete an accident report.
  • Gather evidence. If you can safely do so at the scene of the accident, use a camera to take photographs of vehicle damage, injuries, causes of the crash, etc. Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash.
  • Contact your insurer. You need to report the accident to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. You do not have to go into much detail in your initial report, but they do need to know the crash occurred.
  • Contact an attorney. Consider speaking to a skilled Orange County car accident lawyer who can handle every aspect of your case.

Rear-end collisions often cause severe injuries in Orange County

Contrary to what many people believe, rear-end accidents can cause severe injuries for both drivers and passengers inside the vehicle. One of the most common injuries we rear-end collision victims sustain is whiplash. This is an injury caused by the rapid back and forth motion of the body, with the head in neck jerking back and forth. This can lead to significant strains of the neck and upper back muscles.

Whiplash is not the only type of injury that can occur in a rear-end collision. It is also not uncommon for victims in rear-end accidents to sustain the following:

  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Traumatic brain injuries or concussions
  • Severe sprains or strains
  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage
  • Severe contusions
  • …and more

Rear-end collisions are not uncommon. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), we know that rear-end collisions represent approximately 29% of all vehicle accidents in the US each year. While we do not have exact statistics regarding rear-end collisions in California, the state Office of Traffic Safety says that there were approximately 272,000 vehicle accident injuries reported across the state during the latest year of data available.

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