Critical Evidence in a Motor Vehicle Accident or Pedestrian Case

If you have been injured in a California motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another - a driver, passenger, pedestrian, faulty construction, or poor design - then you may have a legitimate personal injury case through which you can recover damages from the liable defendant(s).

Just like other claims, personal injury claims require evidence. In a motor vehicle accident case, however, the evidence gathering situation can be further complicated due to the temporary nature of the accident scene.

For example, suppose that you are a pedestrian who is hit by a passing vehicle while in a crosswalk. The vehicle does not stop, however, and gets away before law enforcement can arrive at the accident scene. It's a classic hit-and-run. You are unable to identify the vehicle before it gets away.

The fast-moving nature of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents can frequently lead to this sort of difficult situation. Without a license plate number or other identifying information, you would not even be able to bring a claim against the defendant-driver in the first place, let alone attempt to recover damages from said defendant.

Fortunately, there are many sources of evidence in a typical motor vehicle accident case that can be critical for identifying defendants, piecing together the accident timeline, and proving negligence, recklessness, or even malice.

Consider the following.

Identifying Information on Defendants

The first crucial piece of information you'll need to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant is information on the identity of the defendant. You need not necessarily have a pleasant conversation with the defendant in which all contact information and insurance information is exchanged - though it is highly recommended that you do so, if possible. An experienced attorney will be able to locate and identify a defendant even with limited information, such as a license plate number.

Bear in mind that California law helps plaintiffs who are dealing with unresponsive or flighty defendants. If you serve notice of an impending lawsuit against the defendant and they refuse to respond, then - after a period of time - the court may grant you a default judgment against the defendant. In other words, you may be able to "win" automatically.

Witness Accounts

Eyewitness evidence is extremely useful for building up a case against the defendant in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of your case, witness testimony at trial can assure the jury of the defendant's negligence (when accounts are conflicting), and may make your assertions seem more legitimate (if the testimony confirms your assertions).

If you are not severely injured at the time of the accident, you should attempt to identify nearby witnesses and collect their contact information for a later time. If you do not have the opportunity to do so (due to your injuries or otherwise), the police report will likely include the information of some witnesses who remained by the accident when law enforcement officials arrived. Alternatively, your attorney may be able to return to the scene of the accident and identify local witnesses living or working nearby (through various means, such as flyers).

The Vehicle Itself

Your vehicle is a valuable piece of evidence in and of itself. With the aid of accident reconstruction experts, you may be able to reconstruct the accident timeline, understand the speed of each vehicle at the time of the collision, and more. Avoid repairing or selling your vehicle until you have consulted with an attorney, first, as the damaged vehicle may be critical to your overall lawsuit - and this is especially true if you happen to be bringing a case against the manufacturer for a manufacturing defect!

if the physical vehicle is unavailable, photographs (from the police report and otherwise) will likely be used to corroborate witness accounts and party assertions.

Medical Records of Plaintiff and Defendant

Both the medical of the plaintiff (you) and those of the defendant (assuming that the defendant is a person, and not an entity) could be invaluable for determining liability.

The defendant's medical records, for example, might show that they have issues with fine motor control and eyesight. Alternatively, their records might indicate the use of prescription drugs that could impair safe driving, or even recreational drug use or alcoholism. Thus, the defendant's medical records could help guide further factual investigation as to whether the defendant was driving while impaired.

The plaintiff's medical records will be used to demonstrate that the injury suffered was in fact a new or exacerbated injury. Similarly, medical records and future treatment plans are critical for assessing total damages sustained by the plaintiff.

Pay Stubs and Work Evidence

Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident - like any other significant injury - can have a negative effect on your career, in the short-term and sometimes even in the long-term. The wage loss and loss of future earning capacity that you suffer as a result of an injury forms a portion of your overall damages.

For example, suppose that you are an on-site mechanic injured in a motor vehicle accident and your legs are temporarily disfigured as a result. You are forced to miss several months of work. It's important to bring forth evidence of your missed and/or partial work schedule to prove your wage loss claims.


To set up a free consultation with an experienced California car accident attorney, call the Law Offices of Brian O' Grady at (650) 318-6131. Attorney Brian O' Grady values open and honest communication with clients, and will address any questions or concerns you may have.

We look forward to speaking with you.