SECURING TIME SENSITIVE EVIDENCE FOLLOWING A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Following a motor vehicle accident, important steps must be taken to secure time sensitive evidence. This is important in both establishing how the accident happened (liability) and proving the extent of the personal injury (damages). The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the steps an ICBC or personal injury lawyer will take to secure this evidence.
For an ICBC lawyer, the first obligation is to collect evidence as to how the accident happened. This can become vitally important in establishing liability for the accident—determining which party was at fault.
An ICBC lawyer must rely on a variety of sources to collect this evidence. In a serious collision, a police officer will have investigated the accident. By contacting the police officer, the ICBC lawyer or his investigator can collect from the police the names of the witnesses, and other basic details concerning the investigation of the accident. The ICBC lawyer can also, through Court order, gain assess to the full police file, which will generally have evidence of important details such as the length and direction of skid marks, the nature and degree of damage to the vehicles, weather and light conditions, observations about the roadway, and perhaps some indication of the personal injuries.
In a serious case, the ICBC lawyer will also retain an engineer to inspect both the accident scene and the damaged vehicles, in order to secure evidence which can later be used to perform an “accident reconstruction”.
It can also be important for an ICBC lawyer to have an investigator obtain pictures of the vehicle, which can provide useful evidence as to the “mechanism of personal injury”—such things as pictures of where a head hit the windshield, pictures of blood stains, or pictures of damage to the interior of a vehicle consistent with the alleged injury.
It some cases, it is important for the ICBC lawyer to preserve physical objects, such as damaged motor cycle helmets, torn clothing, or any other item which can serve as evidence.
In many cases, evidence of personal injury must be secured by the ICBC lawyer. While the injured party will have been attended to by ambulance crew members, emergency medical personnel, and potentially a clinic Doctor, it can be important to preserve evidence of injury by way of photographs. Compared to a Doctor’s note describing “major facial lacerations,” photographs showing the cuts and bruises to the face can be a much more persuasive piece of evidence. If an injury has any physical manifestation (lacerations, bruising or obvious deformity of the body), it is important to capture this immediately after the accident photographically. These photographs can become very useful at the conclusion of the claim when the time comes for the ICBC personal injury lawyer to prove “pain and suffering” and negotiate damages for the personal injury claim.