Did the dog really eat your homework? Probably not, and frankly, who cares because the important thing to keep in mind in any lawsuit is who has the burden of proof. The burden to prove your personal injury case is on the injured guy and gal. Not the at-fault driver. They don’t have to prove they weren’t at fault, you have to prove they were at fault. Let me put this in perspective. The at-fault driver can be 100% at-fault and not have to pay one thin dime. Read that sentence again.
THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON YOU, THE INJURED PERSON
Here is how to wrap your brain around this idea about proof of damages. If your case lacks proof then even though the other person may be 100% at fault, your case fails because you weren't damaged. You may be injured but if you can't prove damages you lose; it's really that simple.
Now let’s look at liability and damages another way. You are in a car accident, you get rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight waiting for the light to turn green. You have no insurance and the other guy gets away clean. Who was he? No one knows and no one got his license plate number. Will you be able to get paid for the property damage and your ambulance bill? Probably not, because there is no insurance company and you don’t know who hit you.
Now let’s look at another scenario. Same light, same at-fault driver, damage to your car but the this time the driver stays around and is insured by State Farm, Progressive, Geico, Nationwide, Farm Bureau and every other large insurance company on the planet Earth. That ruptured disc in your neck will need surgery. You will miss six months of work and lose wages of $50,000. You were taken by ambulance to the ER and never saw your car after the crash. The thing is, you didn’t take any photographs of your car’s damage, your insurance company did and so did the other guy’s. Except neither of those companies can locate their photographs and for some reason there are no damage repair estimates.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Hmmmmm… you hired a lawyer six-months after the accident and your car is long gone. It’s been junked and you were paid for it. How are you going to describe the damage to the car? Which in turn may prove how hard the impact was which demonstrates why you have a broken neck. Who is going to describe the car damage? Damn, you’re in a world of hurt.
THE 30+ PHOTOGRAPHS YOU HAVE TO HAVE AFTER A CAR WRECK
- Start off with a clear shot of the license plate. This way we can identify the car.
- A clear shot of each side of the car.
- A clear shot of the rear of the car.
- A clear shot of the front of the car.
- A clear shot of any broken glass. This includes the windshield, especially spider webbing where someone’s head broke the windshield. For a moment think about how much force it takes to break a windshield with a human skull. Would you want to try running into a windshield with enough speed at impact to break it? I wouldn’t. And so being able to demonstrate someone’s head did break it might just be important to explain a broken neck or brain damage. And while you are documenting the windshield, let us not forget to use the macro setting on the camera to show blood and hair follicles in the broken windshield. (While you’re here put some of those follicles in a baggy. It may be the proof you need to prove it was your client’s head that took out the windshield.)
- A clear shot of the odometer. You need this, along with other documents, to prove up the value of your car.
- A clear shot of any doors that will not close showing how much they will not close.
- A clear shot along the side of the car. Stand at the rear and eyeball the side of the car. This tends to show wrinkles in the metal. Do the same thing from the front and photograph is for both sides.
- A clear shot of the roofline showing any wrinkles in the roof structure. Why is this important? Because unibody frame construction many times absorbs the energy of impact, and then the frame is torqued. That torqueing can’t be seen just like you can’t see a car inside a garage when the door is closed. Torqueing shows up in the roof line metal; you’ll see it buckle.
- Now you’re not done because next we climb inside of the car to document the interior.
- A clear shot of any blood splatter.
- A clear shot of any hair follicles imbedded into the seams where metal meets clothes and metal meets metal.
- A clear shot of seat disruption and especially seat hardware that secures the seat to the floor. If the impact was hard enough to break the seat rails from the floorboards we need that documented.
- A clear shot of the seat back hinges, on the sides, which secures the rear part of the seat to the bottom portion. If that broke, I want photographs, clear photographs, to demonstrate the force upon impact and how that would affect the seated passenger.
- A clear shot of the airbag that was deployed.
- Clear shots of any disruptions inside the passenger compartment.
- That’s a lot, but we aren’t done yet because we are next heading to the engine compartment and then the trunk. Why? Because along the sides of the engine compartment and at the bottom of the trunk compartment we are going to look to find bent metal, broken welds and ripped metal.
- After that we are heading to the hospital,
- the client’s home and
- probably to rehab and
- the assisted living facility. Why? Because sooner or later I need to prove my client’s damage case and
- there is no better way to demonstrate those damages than to show shots of
- surgical incisions,
- broken limbs,
- fractured skulls,
- swelling and
- a shot of you laying in a hospital bed. Is this ambulance chasing? No, it’s called proving your case.
MOST LAWYERS DON'T CHARGE TO FIND OUT IF YOU HAVE A CASE OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HIRE THEM
I never charge someone to just talk with me to find out if I can help solve their problem. Never. Never have and never will. After all you don't know if your case is one I can settle, try or get a recovery. That's my business to know. You also don't know if you want to hire me. So I talk for free and we decide if this is a case I want and I'm a lawyer you want to work with. After that it's off to the races.
Now if you aren’t likely to shoot these images, hire someone who will and hire a lawyer who will make sure it's done and done right. I’ve investigated thousands of car, truck, ATV, motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, property, farm, semi-truck accidents in every corner of the State of Iowa. For me it has become second-nature, but for some it’s like Trump’s experience with foreign affairs – a recipe for a DISASTER!
Tomorrow I will talk about a wrongful death case involving two semi-truck drivers, and how talking directly to the mechanic and a witness saved my clients cases netting her $650,000.00.
That’s a lot of dough. See you tomorrow.
EARLIER BLOGS BY ATTORNEY LOMBARDI
- Lawyer to Lawyer - The Lawyer's Toolbox - Accident Investigation – What do I do with this case?
- Madison County Accident raises a question: Can I totally rely on the State Trooper’s investigation?
- In Many Cases, Trial Lawyers Are Made By How Well They Investigate The Accident
- Why are officers reluctant to investigate cell phone usage by the drivers when an accident has happened?