What Evidence Do I Need to Win a Philadelphia Car Accident Claim?

  • August 27, 2022
  • Blog

Philadelphia car accident shocks injure and kill victims. One moment, you are driving comfortably, and all is serene. Then another vehicle careens into your right of way. You brake instinctively, bodily, and with a shout silenced by the impact of crumpling metal. The airbag feels like a punch in the nose and blinds you. You spin to a stop, vehicle smoking. As the airbag deflates, you slowly regain your senses. You are happy to be alive.

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Immediately after an injury crash, no one thinks about the intricacies of litigation. But later, as the shock wears off and injuries begin to heal, you face the cold reality that you’ve acquired heavy medical debt, more treatments may be needed, and your vehicle is wrecked.

For most accident victims, paying these expenses would destroy their life savings and leave them hopelessly indebted. All in an instant because of another driver’s carelessness.

You cannot allow yourself and your family to suffer financial ruin for an accident that wasn’t your fault. But insurance companies don’t provide full compensation as a matter of course. Instead, they settle for all your damages when the evidence overwhelms their defense.

To uncover the evidence required to prove your case, you need the Law Offices of John Mattiacci. 

No Lawsuit Starts With a Full View of All the Evidence

But yours does start with your account of what happened. Once our Philadelphia car accident litigation team understands your story, it will swing into action to gather all the evidence needed to bolster your claims and negotiate the settlement you deserve.

Evidence collection is the goal of discovery, a process by which both sides of a lawsuit request documents, analyze reports, and interview witnesses. In many cases, videos provide damning evidence of careless or reckless driving that directly resulted in your injuries and all the accompanying damages you’ve suffered. 

After your initial consultation, our litigation files the legal actions needed to collect the proof that you are the unfairly and severely injured party. 

You Bear the Burden of Proof

One disadvantage of an adversarial legal system is that the injured party must bear the burden of proof. For example, Philadelphia courts must dismiss a Philadelphia car accident claim if the legally specified types of evidence are not presented. Provided they are, the court weighs the plaintiff’s and defendant's evidence and declares the victor by a preponderance of the evidence.

A preponderance of the evidence means that your claim is more likely to be true than the defendants. This is a far lower burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, your case must contain substantial evidence in your favor to prevent the defense from destroying it. 

Additionally, you must prove your damages and that they relate to the incident. To fully collect the damages you’ve demonstrated, you must present evidence that the defendant substantially or totally caused the accident.    

In general, the plaintiff in a Philadelphia car accident case must prove by a preponderance of the evidence: 

  • His or her version of the events leading up to the accident
  • Claims of physical injury, and
  • Claims for lost wages.

Many forms of evidence are acceptable in Philadelphia courts, including the following:

  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Police reports
  • Accident investigation reports
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Witness statements
  • Interrogatories 
  • Depositions
  • Trial testimony

Evidence from the Scene of the Accident in Philadelphia

After an accident, prioritize safety. If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location. Check on passengers and find out the nature of their injuries. Determine if people in other vehicles have suffered injuries. If possible, move vehicles out of oncoming traffic. What could be worse than being in an accident?

Contacting emergency services goes without saying, and this brings law enforcement. The police report usually becomes the second piece of evidence, the first being your experience. In most jurisdictions, the police furnish all parties to an accident with a report copy. Anyone who has read a police report knows they contain basic factual information in a brief format. 

Much of this information provides valuable evidence. For example, the report identifies those involved and their insurers, establishes the location, and identifies the vehicles and witnesses. In addition, they have other information that may or may not be helpful to your case, such as the direction vehicles were traveling, weather conditions, road conditions, and a brief description from the officer.

Any citations issued are always important for fact-finding. However, the civil and criminal justice systems work separately, so a conviction for a traffic offense, even one that shows you had the right of way, does not mean you win a civil case. By the same token, if citations against other drivers end in dismissal, they cannot use as a basis for a civil court defense.

The police also take photographic evidence that is germane in many instances. Victims may be in no condition to take cellphone photos or videos, but many plaintiffs who had road cameras in their vehicles have a compelling piece of evidence for their case. 

Other key pieces of evidence obtained through witnesses, photos, and accident investigation officials include the vehicle condition, traffic signal locations, skid marks, vehicle debris, and other physical evidence. 

Your memory serves as an invaluable asset in your case. As soon as possible, write down everything you remember in chronological order. Even a seemingly insignificant detail may become pivotal in proving fault lay with the other party and that your damages should not be reduced by comparative negligence.

For instance, the other party may be clearly at fault, but the defense may claim you were speeding, so your reward must be reduced. Noting that you had the cruise control set at the speed limit and then braked in an attempt to avoid the accident could provide a key piece of evidence to refute the defense.

Evidence of Damages

Proving fault does not suffice. You must also demonstrate that you suffered damages due to the collision. Damages eligible for compensation fall into compensatory (economic) and general (non-economic).

Compensatory Damages Include:

  • Vehicle damage
  • Other property
  • Ambulance charges
  • Emergency room charges
  • Medical tests
  • Hospital bills
  • Doctors bills
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Lost investment compounding
  • Lost business income
  • Other

philadelphia car accident case compensation also includes projected future eligible expenses and lost income related to the incident.

General Damages Include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress

Proving Damages in Philadelphia

Economic damages are easiest to prove. A paper trail exists that demonstrates the losses. For example, medical-, live-in care-, and therapy bills are easily obtainable. Philadelphia law also allows you to claim additional damages for recent improvements made to the property, such as new tires, engine-, and transmission repairs. 

Gather all records of your economic damages and present them to your Mattiacci Law litigation team. Create a chronological diary of lost income. For example, record each lost paycheck. Self-employed people losing income should be very detailed because lost business income is more complicated to prove than lost wages. In addition, include lost benefits and out-of-pocket expenses the loss forced you to bear.

General damages are more subjective. No one receives a bill for pain and suffering, inconvenience, and emotional stress. To document your claims, keep a highly detailed chronological journal of how you suffered under each eligible category. 

Your journal should include details on pain, medical appointments, therapeutic sessions, difficulties created in your life, emotional responses to related events, lost opportunities, family impact, and other general damages categories. 

For instance, your journal entries for healthcare appointments should record the provider seen, what was discussed, and treatments administered, such as MRIs, EKGs, x-rays, physical therapy, and prescriptions. Under pain and suffering, enter the pain's type, level, and location. For severity, use a scale from 1 to 10. Under emotional distress, record daily feelings, such as isolation due to injuries keeping you bedridden.

The more exhaustive, the better. Your Mattiacci litigation team will sift through the diary and extract details that bolster your case. You may be surprised at what turns out to be necessary.

Additional Evidence

As the litigation process proceeds, your Mattiacci Law car accident lawyer team has many opportunities to generate additional proof, including interrogatories and depositions.

Interrogatories are written questions generated by opposing legal teams. The witnesses must answer in writing and under oath. They also form the basis for depositions.

For example, personal injury lawyers use interrogatories to gather evidence about the defendant(s) driving history and criminal involvement, if applicable. Defendants must answer truthfully because they are under oath. 

Lawyers notice lies or obfuscations through the collateral provided by other evidence. Defendants caught evading the truth destroy their credibility and expose them to civil- and criminal contempt of court.

Depositions are an adversarial process where lawyers question the other side’s witnesses in person and under oath. A court reporter creates a stenographic record. Attorneys ask questions to extract information, tie witnesses to their stories, clarify testimony, and detect perjury. Depositions make up part of the backbone of trial preparation.

For example, a personal injury attorney builds upon questions asked in interrogatories about a defendant(s) driving history. It’s impossible for witnesses to change their stories at trial because the deposition was taken under oath. Therefore, a witness contradicting what he or she stated in depositions loses credibility and may destroy his defense.

Car wrecks can leave you battered, blue, and in debt. Thankfully, you have the right to compensation under Philadelphia law. But you must prove your case first. Gathering evidence is crucial. Your Mattiacci litigation team are crack investigators who leave no stone unturned in building a bulletproof case.

Contact Philadelphia Car Accident Settlement Attorney

If you have been involved in a car accident in the Philadelphia region, you need expert representation from Mattiacci Law. We defend every inch of your claim. Call for a free consultation.

Related Content: How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim in Philadelphia

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