When it comes to a claim for personal injury from slip and fall to major accident, time is of the essence in gathering the evidence necessary to support the claim. Since the evidence often consists of eyewitnesses with fungible memories and video surveillance footage that can be taped over at any moment, it is very important to secure it as soon as possible. Half of the battle, though, is knowing what you need to get.
A lot of this will depend upon the type of personal injury claim that is involved. Car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and just about any other type that will probably have witnesses means identifying and contacting the witnesses is an absolute priority. Since witness memories can easily change over time, it is also vitally important to get some kind of statement from them as to what they saw as soon as possible after the incident. This can be used later in a deposition or at trial to either support or poke holes in the witness’ testimony.
Another critical step is to identify and try to get any video surveillance footage that might be available. This includes dashcams, building surveillance systems, and eyewitness cell phone footage. Depending upon the severity of the incident, the police may be involved and will be the first ones to obtain this evidence to investigate if there are any criminal changes that need to be filed. In this respect, the police can be a help in tracking down leads on witnesses and recordings from different vantage points.
Even with smaller scale claims for slip and falls in a store, most stores upon being notified of an incident as a matter of course will be able to identify and flag the necessary footage for later use. However, it is also very important to reach out to other customers who may have been around to at least get their contact information and a brief synopsis of what they saw to be able to pass on the information to your personal injury lawyer to later develop.
It is also very important for you to record as soon as possible as much of what you remember as well. If you are able and do not need immediate medical assistance, try to take pictures of the incident scene and any details that you see that might be important. In this day and age of cell phone cameras, it should not be difficult to capture at least a few pictures and maybe even some video of the scene that can be analyzed later. Write down as much of what you remember as possible including times, dates, names of people, locations, and a detailed description of your perspective of what happened. Include as much detail as possible. Even something that may seem inconsequential can be important once other information is known.
Remember that more often than not, you will probably be the person in charge of gathering this evidence as you will need it to bring to an attorney to gauge whether your claim is viable. Do not assume that you can leave this work to the attorney as it may be some time between the incident and when you meet with the attorney.