If you have been injured in a car accident, the steps you take to preserve evidence can affect a potential personal injury claim.
As a recent New York case shows, this can even include the types of medical treatment someone seeks. A woman sued the driver of the cab she was riding in and the driver of the other car for injuries she sustained in a 2009 car accident. To prevail on her claim of serious injury, she had to prove she sustained significant injuries and suffered harm directly from the car accident.
However, the woman failed to go to a court-ordered independent medical examination and instead elected to have surgery. The judge ruled that by electing to have surgery she changed her physical condition. This altered the evidence of the alleged injuries sustained from the car accident and made it virtually impossible for the other side to independently confirm her medical issues and argue their side of the case.
At the time of an accident, first and foremost pay attention to a person’s immediate safety and health. Collecting evidence and keeping track of medical treatment for a potential lawsuit may not be the first thing on the person’s mind. Nevertheless, be prepared to maintain and get as much information as possible.
Car accidents are stressful, l but those involved must do their best to gather and preserve evidence by taking photos, talking to witnesses if possible, keeping track of damage to the vehicle and all medical treatment received. A negligent driver may be held liable for damages, lost wages and medical expenses. But the burden of proof is on the injured party to show his or her injuries were caused by the negligence of the driver.
In order to meet this burden, preservation of key evidence is very important.
- Reuters, “Spinal Surgery Spoils NY Woman’s Lawsuit,” Deanne Katz, Aug. 3, 2012