If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a car accident, South Dakota law allows you to file a claim against the at-fault driver for your damages:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Simply filing a claim, however, does not automatically get you the compensation you deserve. To receive a fair settlement, you must provide convincing evidence that the other driver caused your crash and your injuries.
Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Case
The negligent driver’s insurance company will do its best to devalue or deny your claim. It does not stay profitable by paying large sums of money to accident victims. Because you’re the party demanding compensation, the burden of proving who caused the wreck is on you. You must also prove that you suffered injuries. If your injuries required you to take time off work, you must prove that you lost wages, as well. Your success depends entirely on the evidence you can present.
Types of Evidence You Can Provide to Prove Liability in a Car Accident Case
There are several different types of evidence that can help you meet your burden of proof. The more of this evidence you have, the more likely you are to get a fair settlement.
If you’re physically able to after your accident, move to a safe area and try to take photos (ideally including the date and time) of:
- Both vehicles involved in the wreck and any debris on the road
- The accident scene (wide-angle shots are best)
- Skid marks and damage to guardrails, trees, poles, or other objects
- Stop signs and/or traffic lights if you crashed at an intersection
- Your injuries following the crash and each day afterward as they heal
Medical Bills and Receipts
If you’re not transported to the ER by police or EMTs, you should seek medical care right away and get copies of all related paperwork to document your injuries. Some injuries aren’t apparent without a medical exam or X-rays, so it’s important to see a doctor even if you don’t think you’re badly hurt.
Pay statements or tax returns documenting your income will show how much money you lose if you’re unable to work after the wreck.
Witness Contact Information
Your attorney will contact anyone who saw the accident and get a statement as to what happened in order to confirm your version of the crash.
Car Repair/Rental Receipts
You shouldn’t rush to get your car repaired, but when you do, keep receipts to prove the property damage you’ve suffered.
Police Report and At-fault Driver’s Information
You and the other driver must stay at the scene, exchange ID and insurance information, and call 911 to report the accident. Law enforcement officers will arrive and ask you both questions, verify your information/registrations, and fill out an accident report.
You are entitled to a copy of the report, which is very important proof that your accident occurred when, where, and how you say it did. If the other driver was driving for work purposes or in a company car, you should get the name and contact information of their employer, as well.
Additional Evidence Your Attorney Can Gather
In addition to the evidence you can provide, there is also important evidence that an experienced attorney can collect to strengthen your claim:
- Security camera video footage. If your accident occurred near a business, a security camera might have recorded the crash. Your attorney will know how to get this footage quickly before it’s erased.
- Expert witnesses. If an accident reconstruction specialist, a doctor (other than your own), or an economic expert would strengthen your claim, your lawyer will know how to find them.
- Towing records. If one or both cars were towed from the accident scene, the tow truck driver or towing company might have information that supports your claim.
- Red-light camera footage. Some intersections have cameras that might show the scene of your crash immediately before, during, and immediately after your wreck. Your attorney will know how to access this footage.
Have You Been Injured in a South Dakota Car Accident? Contact Our Sioux Falls Car Accident Attorneys Today!
An experienced car accident lawyer can organize and present your evidence to get you fair compensation for your damages. Contact us online or call us at 605-644-5003 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.