Gathering Evidence In A Personal Injury Claim
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the Claimant to prove their claim.
It is therefore really important that if you have been involved in an accident and wish you obtain compensation for your injuries, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims as soon as possible.
This will maximise the opportunity to gather as much evidence as possible to prove the claim.
So, what type of evidence would you be looking to obtain to prove a claim? This would be dependant of the type of accident.
For a road traffic accident, you would look to obtain all of the evidence that has been gathered by the police such as the police accident report, any interviews from the parties involved in the accident, potential witnesses, CCTV, dashcam evidence, photographs of the damaged vehicle(s) and photographs of the accident locus and maintenance records for the vehicle in question (if it is alleged that the accident was caused by a defect to the vehicle).
For an accident at work, it would be necessary to obtain the accident book entry, the first aider report, any other associated accident report forms, the RIDDOR report (if the Claimant has been absent from work for more than 10 days), other communications between the Defendant and the Health and Safety Executive, minutes of Health and Safety Executive meetings where the accident has been considered, details of any previous accidents, pre and post-accident risk assessments and earnings information whether the Defendant is an employer.
With regard to an accident that occurred on a Public Highway, it will be necessary to obtain from the Local Authority, photographs of the defect in question which should be of sufficient quality to demonstrate the length and depth of the defect in order to establish that the defect itself is sufficiently dangerous to be actionable. It is important to note that once the Claimant has reported the defect to the Local Authority, they will quickly attempt to repair the defect. For this reason, the Claimant should only report the defect to Local Authority once they are satisfied that they have obtained good quality of photographs of the defect establishing the length and depth of it. In addition, we would need to request from the Local Authority their maintenance and inspection records, repair documents and Code of Practice in order to establish whether the Local Authority had a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance in place at the time of the accident and whether this was being properly implemented.
If the accident occurred in a public place then it would be necessary to obtain the Accident Report form, First Aiders Report, communications between the Defendant and the Health and Safety Executive including minutes of any meetings, details of any previous accidents or complaints and pre and post-accident risk assessments.
In most types of personal injury cases, there is certain evidence that is ordinarily required. This includes GP notes, hospital notes, payslips, (where a loss of earnings claim is being put forward), receipts of losses that have been incurred as a result of the accident.
Finally, irrespective of the accident, the sooner the Claimant seeks legal advice, the better their recollection of the accident (as well as the recollection of any potential witnesses) is likely to be.