Evidence is an essential part of any court proceedings, be it a plaintiff or a defendant who needs to incorporate it in the submissions. When you suffer harm and losses from a bus accident, you need to collect as much evidence as you can from the site of the accident as well as from other vital records. All this information becomes necessary when presented to the judge for a determination of your damages claim. When you have the help of a well trained and experienced lawyer, he or she will help you work seamlessly and collect all the necessary evidential details you require for your case.
The evidential burden in a civil suit always falls on the plaintiff. The requirement means that you have the responsibility of collecting as much information for use as evidence as you can to prove your case. Therefore, you require the services of a highly skilled lawyer who is well versed with the technicalities of evidence presented in court. Consulting your Orange County Personal Injury Attorney will give you an excellent overview of what to consider while consolidating your sources of evidence. You should receive advice on what to do after an accident, the essential details to note as well as the course of action you should expect.
The Importance of Collecting Evidence
The primary role of any evidential material you collect is to help build your case and create added credibility to your statements. Therefore, it is only logical that if you have overwhelming evidence against a defendant, you are more likely to win your case. Evidence serves many other vital purposes during court proceedings and even after. Some of the importance of having evidence include:
It Simplifies the Process of Court Submissions
Where your lawyer does not have to do much convincing to the judge, it is because of the concrete evidence that he or she has against a defendant. Moreover, having credible sources of evidence to apply in court reduces the need to explain everything that occurred, or to give extremely technical details concerning the nature of the bus accident. While such information cannot be disregarded based on being too technical, the defendant’s attorney makes use of the overwhelming information to twist a minor detail in their favor. Thus, it helps to have a straightforward means of proving your points for the avoidance of doubt.
Evidence is Essential in Making Retrospective Deductions
Sometimes, a bus accident may occur so quickly that even the victim and the liable party may be genuinely unable to recollect what happened. Additionally, the defendant may withhold vital information that may bring out his or her negligence, making the entire trial process arduous and non-efficient. However, when there is evidence, for example in the form of photographs or videos, it becomes undeniable in court that a particular incident indeed happened. Besides, experts that the court requests to offer professional opinions in court can make use of such evidence to determine the nature and severity of the bus accident.
It is important to remember that such evidence must be accurate. It should be very authentic, such that the defendant’s attorney cannot possibly come up with an alternative line of thought to contradict it. An example is where the measurements of the damaged vehicle provide the numerical figure of the force exerted by the bus to the victim’s car.
Presenting Evidence is a Major Requirement in Court
A successful court determination must fulfill the requirement of proving your case on a balance of probabilities. The only way to secure a win, and receive your compensation is by quashing any alternate sources of events that the opposing party may throw at you. The defendant’s attorney usually tries to disprove your theory of the causes of the bus accident, even if he or she knows that they are probably valid. Thus, to avoid any element of doubt, evidence cements your argument and voids the defendant’s side from manipulating information to fit their narrative.
Consequently, where your evidence provides a proper legal backup, you have a very significant advantage over the party you are suing. However, you should know that the more evidence you collect, the easier it will be for your lawyer to make legal submissions seeking damages for your loss.
The Evidence Required in Court After a Bus Accident
While circumstances may make it impossible to have all the possible sources of evidence on the days of your trial, you should strive to consolidate as many details as you can after getting involved in a bus accident. The assumption would be that you are safe and not severely injured, and can, therefore, coordinate yourself well enough to take down some principal details. However, you should not worry if you have suffered severe injuries or you are on the way to the hospital, as long as you or a loved one can contact one of our attorneys. Our job is to help you out by promptly arriving at the scene of the accident and collecting all primary evidence and details. The vital evidence to get is:
The Involved Parties’ Contact Details
When you become a victim of a bus accident, you require all the essential contact details of the people involved in the incident. The specifications provide a reference point in the future when you decide to commence the litigation process considering you can call the interested parties and inform them of future litigation. Depending on the nature of your accident, you need to record the:
- Bus license number to help identify the specific vehicle when an assessor needs to examine it.
- The bus driver’s name, phone number, and address to contact soon.
- The name of the registered company that manages the bus in question to access additional information on company policy.
- The Insurance company that covers the bus driver-in case you have to meet with an insurance adjuster.
It also helps to take down the names of any possible witnesses around the scene of the accident, because they can provide constructive details during court sessions. While some of them may resist such a move, your Orange County Personal Injury Attorney will play a role in convincing them of the need to comply, as well as the benefits they provide to the litigation process.
Photographic Evidence of the Accident Scene
Photographs are an excellent source of evidence in court because they capture the exact position and situation as it was on the ground. Such evidence is best to use when you want to disprove the defendant’s possible statements, which may try to give a different image. Also, photographs enhance your credibility because of their direct display of the actual bus and any other car or obstacle that may have played a role in causing the accident. For the judge to accept photos as evidence, he or she must be satisfied that they have a valid timestamp to match the court records that indicate when the accident happened. You can also include all other details as you present the photos in court, like the location of the accident, the photographic pixels, and the device used to capture the images.
One of the significant advantages of having photos as evidence is that you can retrieve them at any time, especially if they were taken using a smartphone. With remote storage options, all you need is to log into your digital account and download the photos. Thus, you do not have to be concerned about the possible loss of essential data.
Data Stored in The Bus’ Black Box
Some of the large vehicles like trucks, buses, and airplanes typically have black boxes installed in the mechanical body. Due to their large size, such vehicles require constant monitoring in case of an accident. Thus, the black box collects the bus’ data by synchronizing all the mechanical sensors that transmit energy. By accumulating all this data, the black box can then display evidential information regarding the dynamics of several mechanisms just before the occurrence of the accident. For example, the black box can show the pattern applied by a driver just before he or she hit the emergency brakes. Moreover, in case of a suspicion that the bus driver was at high speed just before the accident, your lawyer can liaise with the relevant professionals to verify the credibility of the suspicion. He or she will receive a report, thanks to the black box data.
The uses of black box data are still very prevalent in retrieving the vital information that concerns the bus’ movement. However, recent developments in technology and motor engineering have brought improvements. Manufacturers and assemblers can now fit an Electronic Logging Device in the vehicle’s mechanical structure that operates similarly to the black box creations. Nonetheless, on top of the primary information that a black box collects, the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) have additional features that enable them to store information about:
- The bus mileage, including the duration that a bus driver spent on the road. Such information is useful when investigating whether the bus driver had exceeded his or her stipulated working hours.
- Data concerning any recent repairs or replacements of parts done on the bus that is useful in determining the cause of the accident. The information will help determine if the maintenance was up to date, in case of a suspicion that a mechanical problem caused the accident.
- The ranges of speed applied on the bus at the time of its use. The information includes all the times that a bus driver applies brakes, and emergency brakes if any. The ELD will record and store all this information and display the different patterns of speeding, just as in a black box.
Acquiring the data from a black box may involve taking some procedural steps like contacting the company that manages the bus involved in the accident. Afterward, your lawyer will need to seek permission to access the data, with proof of a court order to justify the action.
A deposition is a recorded testimony given outside the court proceedings, often by the party you intend to name as your defendants. While a deposition is not included in the court proceeding records, the person giving his/her testimony is bound under oath to tell the truth. Therefore, you can source the statements made from a court reporter and introduce it as evidence in court when proceedings begin. Depositions are relevant sources of evidence when a defendant changes his or her statements during the court witness statements. Your lawyer can introduce the documentation of the defendant’s narration of events during the deposition and show the loopholes in the two accounts. Creating this doubt gives the defendant a chance to come clean. Alternatively, it may highlight the weakness in his or her statement to the judge. Such a move is an advantage on your side.
Testimonies By Witnesses
Witnesses can play a pivotal role in providing evidence when they give a record of events as they remember them to be. While there is a general notion that witness statements are unreliable because of inaccurate recollection of memories, they still contribute considerably to providing evidence. If, for example, a pedestrian was nearby when the bus involved in the accident crashed or collided with another, he or she can give a brief narration of the different circumstances that led to the bus accident.
Witnesses also help justify statements made by professional assessors, by confirming the position that the bus or another vehicle was at, moments before the impact. For example, in a T-bone bus accident, a witness can attest to one of the cars being in an unauthorized position on the highway. The occurrence may be a result of ignoring road signs or traffic lights.
Overall, a witness statement is crucial to include in evidence collection, mainly because they are sworn and are under oath while testifying. Therefore, your lawyer should reach out to potential witnesses and seek their input on matters related to the accident.
All bus owners should have a logbook to store any records involving the use of the vehicle. For a commercial bus, a logbook should indicate any activities that the driver involves himself/herself in on the road. Some of the essential records that are retrieved from the bus logbook lead to a revelation of key details concerning the bus’ use. The documents indicate the beginning of the driver’s work shift, time spent on the road, as well as the end of the shift. Additionally, a logbook also indicates when a driver exceeds the driving hours designated in the commercial driver’s manual.
Moreover, another advantage of referring to logbook records is that you can find records of minor details. Such information may seem trivial, yet it becomes critical when establishing the driver’s behavior pattern before the occurrence of the bus accident. For example, you can find the number of times a driver rested from his or her work route schedule. You can also find out the duration of the rest as well as when the driver stops. The evidence collected can be incorporated with other important documents and presented in an argument presentation.
Professional Assessor's Statement
After a high impact bus accident, you may require to make an assessment of the damage caused, as well as the kind of impact that caused damage to your vehicle. Such evidence is useful in a case where the victim is a fellow motorist who collided with the bus. An assessor is able to determine the exact angle and force that the bus hit your car, as well as any other elements like the distance between the two vehicles before they collided. All these findings will help your case significantly when you are sure that the defendant was in the wrong. While the information from the professional assessor is essential to your case, accessing the damaged bus may be challenging. Sometimes, the bus company may authorize immediate repair or reconstruction of the damaged body, which prevents a proper analysis of the previously damaged structure.
Therefore, it is important to contact your lawyer immediately after the accident, so that he/she can make the required requests to the owner of the bus, asking for a delayed repair. Usually, the owner has no reason to object to the request, but it helps to have legal backing by including a court order. For a proper cause of action, your lawyer must apply for a court order early enough, because it takes some time for authorization to ensue. Thus, it all comes down to how soon you contact your attorney, as time is of the essence in such a situation.
Official Original Documents
The aftereffect of getting involved in a bus accident is that you have to seek several services, including medical attention. If you have sustained any injuries, whether minor or severe, we recommend visiting a hospital and getting a medical examination. Other times, your case may require emergency services like ambulance transportation, as well as emergency surgical procedures. Your treatment process will also include recurrent medical appointments to monitor your recovery progress, and help detect any upcoming complications caused by such an accident. Also, in the worst-case scenario, you might spend a significant duration in the hospital bed, which is paramount for a healthy recovery.
After undergoing all these procedures, you need to keep all receipts, medical prescription sheets, and appointment cards safely. Moreover, for any medical purchases for drugs, wheelchair support, or even new items like oxygen machines, you need to keep all records of purchase safely. All these receipts and medical records serve as essential evidence in court to support the compensatory claims you make. For example, if you seek repayment for all the money used on treatment, the judge requires certified original receipts that prove that there was a purchase.
Also, you should safely store all your medical data like X-Ray images, MRI scans, or CT-scans. The truth is that many fraudulent people may be experts at faking injuries and medical receipts to get an easy win in settlements. Therefore, providing additional information using these documents increases your credibility to the judge, and proves all the claims that your lawyer presents.
Apart from personal injuries, you may have suffered significant damage to property, especially to your vehicle. Some of the bus accidents will result in extreme vehicle damage that may even result in a write-off of your car. If this is the case, you should store all records provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles indicating that your vehicle is now unroadworthy. However, if the impact of the bus accident does not destroy your car entirely, you should keep all the receipts of purchase and repairs you make on the damaged car. This evidence will justify the total monetary sum that you expect from the defendant while maintaining a believable and justified demand for damages.
The Bus Driver’s Phone History
Accessing a bus driver’s phone data requires approval from the court by acquiring a court order because it is an invasion of private data. Thus, your lawyer needs to make the requisite applications to the court, before authorization to approach the defendant’s service provider for a run of the vital information. While phone records require a lengthy analysis, the data collected serves as key evidence in a situation where the suspected cause of the bus accident is a distraction. It is not uncommon for motorists to use their phones to call or text while they should be focused on the road. Thus, phone history is an important indicator of a liable bus driver’s fault.
How to Preserve Evidence
While you may collect evidence early enough, sometimes it becomes hectic to try and keep track of all your sources until your hearing date. Consequently, you require an organized and efficient way to store all the documents, data, and even access to witnesses. Also, you need to make sure that the sources of evidence like a damaged bus are preserved until investigations and analyses are done.
We recommend that you make copies of all original documents of reports, medical receipts, and images as well as reports from the police that are relevant to your case. While copies are not the recommended form of presenting information, they are essential in case of an inevitable incident that destroys the originals. The copies made are also useful in requesting for a reformulation of the originals. This is because they offer proof of previous involvement with the body you request the service of providing originals from again.
Using electronic backup systems to store your digital photographic evidence is also a good way to preserve it. These systems allow you to retrieve your data at any time, even after an accidental deletion. Therefore, you can safely rely on such services.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The process of presenting evidence in court requires a careful and thorough analysis of all the circumstances and events that led to the bus accident. Having a well-qualified lawyer to assist you with the collection of the evidence can mean the difference between a win and a loss in court. Calling the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney after a bus accident connects you to the best legal services that will ensure your litigation process goes about smoothly. Call us today at 714-876-1959.