Collect and record evidence to help you make your case
Why collect evidence?
Keeping a detailed record about an incident and what followed is rather like doing a jigsaw. Witness statements, medical examinations, photographic evidence and your immediate recollection of the incident all have a part to play. In isolation each element of evidence may appear inconclusive but if you put them all together it can often create a watertight personal injury claim. And if you keep records of everything together it’s organised and things don’t get forgotten or go missing.
If you’ve also kept records of appointments, where you went and what for along with all your expenses these can easily be used as evidence to support your claim for compensation for out of pocket expenses. So keep all receipts and invoices of any costs and expenses, including those arising from any tasks or care you were unable to carry out yourself, because of the injuries. For example taxi fares, bus tickets, loss of income.
How should I collect evidence?
Firstly, download our evidence gathering app and sign up for our free tools to help you collect and store evidence quickly and easily.
1. Record details of the accident at the scene if you can
In the event of an accident obviously the first thing to do is ensure there are no life-threatening injuries and any injuries received are treated as soon as possible. However, in the aftermath of an accident it can be very easy to forget some details and therefore you should safely record as much information as you possibly can as soon as you can.
If you can’t do this you should ask a relative, friend, or work colleague to collect information from the scene for you. In the immediate aftermath of an accident the detail recorded might be basic but it will be something to build on to make a case. It may also remind you of something you forget later.
2. Continue the recordings by keeping a diary of events afterwards
Your records should set out not only the circumstances leading up to the accident (i.e. for road traffic accidents, the weather conditions on the day of the accident, visibility levels and the speed of the flow of traffic) but also events immediately following the accident (i.e. conversations with witnesses, conversations with other party/employer and phone calls made to and received from your GP, insurance companies). That way you can be clear what happened and not have to try to remember days, weeks or months later.
If you have had help from family or friends, or if they have visited you in hospital, you should record what they did to help, noting the things you need help with and who is providing that help each day or each week (e.g. if you need assistance with collecting shopping, or household chores, or getting to and from hospital to treatment appointments).
a. Keep all correspondence in date order
You should ensure that you keep copies of any letters received in relation to your accident, for example, letters from insurance companies, so you can share them with your solicitors, along with all your records.
b. Out of pocket expenses
These are another type of important documentation which you will need to produce, as part of your claim. These may include things like the cost of painkillers and prescription charges, loss of earnings due to having to take time off work to recover and the cost of any recommended treatment, such as physiotherapy. To support your claim for these items you will need to produce the relevant receipts, payslips and invoices to send to the other party insurance company.
3. Take witness details, record them, and give them to your solicitor straightaway
One of the most powerful types of evidence in personal injury claims is that of unconnected third parties, because they can provide an impartial and unbiased record of events. It is therefore crucial that you get contact details for witnesses to the accident which can be used to give a more detailed and wider picture of what happened.
Whether witnesses stop to help you or they were simply passing at the time, it is imperative that you obtain their contact details. Someone will need to interview them quickly to make sure their evidence is committed to paper whilst the events are still clear in their mind. Your solicitor will organise this. Without this kind of evidence your case might be weaker.
Evidence from members of the emergency services, who are unbiased, is likely to be more factual and strong when seeking to prove negligence. This is worth remembering when putting together your initial report to be shared with your solicitor. You will often find that members of the emergency services are fairly experienced in giving evidence in court cases and are not easily bullied or intimidated by legal representatives.
4. Don’t forget to collect photographic evidence
A picture speaks a thousand words and this is certainly the case when it comes to photographic evidence of an accident. Nowadays claimants and/or witnesses tend to have immediate access to a smart phone and are able to take photographs. So it’s easy to photograph the position of vehicles in a road traffic accident and the damage done, the type of fall in a workplace (such as the height, where from and any obstacles), and even weather conditions can be clarified using photographic evidence. In the event of a hit-and-run a witness may have taken photographs or a video of a fleeing vehicle or a person leaving the scene of a crime and these can be used later for identification purposes. If possible, you should take as many photographs as you can of the scene, the vehicles, people involved and the immediate aftermath. Think of what will help you prove your case and photograph it.
Photograph your injuries
Photographs of your injuries will also be useful if the value of your claim is disputed along with showing the original severity. This is especially important where you have been left with scarring as a result of any injuries you sustained.
5. Keep records of any medical examinations/appointments
If you attend any medical appointments add them to your records, writing down where you went, when you went, whom you saw and their qualifications and what happened. You may need to have a medical report setting out the history of your post accident treatment.
There are many personal injury claims where the initial injuries may not appear to require immediate medical attention. If you begin to feel unwell and experience a degree of discomfort in the days after an accident go to your doctor for an examination. Your doctor may say you’re fine but they may also diagnose both physical and mental injuries associated with the accident. Do not automatically assume that physical/mental injuries will emerge immediately after an accident.