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From Gumshoe To GPS: Collecting Evidence in Car Crash Cases

Auto Accident AttorneyIn Illinois civil court, victim/plaintiffs must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Assume that two stacks of paper are side by side. If someone adds just one sheet of paper to the stack on the left, it is higher than the stack on the right. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.

Of course, the evidence itself is just pieces of a jigsaw puzzle until someone puts the puzzle together. That someone is usually an experienced attorney who knows how to gather evidence and knows how to put it together in a compelling way.

Traditional Methods

The police accident report is the cornerstone of traditional evidence in Rockford car crash cases. First responders are not accident reconstructionists. However, these people are very adept at gathering facts.

There are often two problems with police reports. First, they are often incomplete. Emergency responders are not on the scene to collect evidence for future lawsuits. So, they may leave some stones unturned. Second, the report may be biased. If the victim dies or is too seriously injured to give a statement, the report only contains one side of the story.

So, to supplement the accident report, attorneys look to additional sources of evidence, like:

  • Other Witnesses: Some people only saw part of the crash, so they may not have voluntarily come forward at the time. Others simply do not like speaking with police officers, for various reasons.
  • Photographs: Many times, a picture really is worth a thousand words. That’s especially true in today’s court cases. Most Winnebago County courtrooms have high-definition viewing screens that bring pictures to life.
  • Video: Most intersections have either red-light cameras or traffic cameras. Additionally, most nearby businesses have surveillance cameras. This video evidence is especially useful if there are few or no eyewitnesses.

To collect and assemble this evidence, attorneys often partner with detectives.

GPS Evidence Gathering Methods

Most of us probably know what GPS stands for, so we won’t explain it.

However, most people do not know that their vehicle probably contains an Event Data Recorder. Depending on the jurisdiction, these devices have been mandatory on passenger cars since about 2010. Rather like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets, EDRs capture critical operational data, like:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Steering angle,
  • Brake application, and
  • Engine RPM.

These measurements are critical in many Rockford car crash cases. As a bonus, it is very difficult for insurance company lawyers to keep this evidence out of court.

To protect this information, Illinois has a very strict EDR privacy law. So, an attorney must often obtain a court order to inspect the EDR and download the information it contains.

An attorney helps in another key way as well. Many insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles a few days after the wreck. If that happens, the EDR, and any other physical evidence in the vehicle, is lost. So, attorneys send spoliation letters to prevent insurance companies from “accidentally” destroying such evidence.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

The amount of quality evidence is directly proportional to the odds or success in civil cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.