What are five important pieces of evidence in a drunk driving crash?
Like all personal injury cases, evidence in a drunk driving crash is used to tell a story. We tell this story to the drunk driver’s insurance adjuster, we tell the story to the judge, and most important, we tell this story to the jury. Story telling may not sound like a legal term, and it’s not, but it really is our job as lawyers to tell the story of how a drunk driver endangered the community and injured you.
There are lots of pieces of evidence that can be used to tell the story, but in a drunk driving crash these items listed below are what we have found to be the most powerful and important.
1. Police officer dash/body camera
Before body and dash cameras, shows like COPS took you in because it showed the uncomfortable but clearly entertaining side of society. Body and dash cameras give us a raw look at what happens at the time of the arrest. If you search YouTube you will find that body camera videos can get millions of views. It’s no secret that they can be entertaining, but more important, they tell us the story of what happened.
In a drunk driving injury case, these videos are critical. They catch the scene of the crash in real time, as well as the conduct of the drunk individual who hit you. Sometimes, they are nice and polite to the police and everyone at the scene. Other times, they are so drunk they can barely stand up straight. Either way, there is no question that body and dash camera videos are extremely important to drunk driving injury cases.
2. Crash report
Police officers in Texas are usually supposed to to fill out crash reports. These are standard forms across the state made by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). TxDOT uses these crash reports to compile statistics about car crashes across the state of Texas. Police officers are trained to investigate crash scenes and fill out reports based on the evidence at the scene and witnesses statements.
Although police officers are rarely at the scene of the crash when the crash happens, they are trained to investigate crashes and make opinions based on the evidence available to them. In drunk driving crashes, police officers fill out the information and state that driving under the influence was a factor contributing to the crash. Although insurance companies dispute this, common sense tells us that if a person is drunk and caused a crash that their drunk driving is the reason for causing the crash.
3. 911 Call Audio
911 call audio can be some of the best evidence, especially from eyewitnesses. In some drunk driving crashes, we have uncovered 911 calls of witnesses who reported a driver weaving in and out of traffic, slamming against concrete barriers and continuing to drive, or driving much faster than the speed limit. 911 audio is not always admissible, however the audio can help identify witnesses to interview and possibly subpoena to trial.
4. Photos of property damage
We like to preserve as much evidence as we can to be able to tell the story. Property damage photos are very important even if the insurance company and their hired guns (lawyers) say the property damage is minor. Pictures of the impact on all vehicles involved absolutely tells the story regardless of how much damage is visible.
5. Medical Records
It is always important to get checked out by a medical professional after a crash. Cars are huge hunks of metal that drive at high speed. When they collide people on the inside absorb a lot of force. Even if you feel fine immediately after the crash you may be in a lot of pain the next day, so it’s important to seek out medical attention to determine how severe your injuries are. Also, you want to get the proper treatment for your injuries. Medical records help document the treatment you went through including the amount and intensity. These records also document the pain and injuries you lived through because of the crash.
When should I hire a lawyer after being hit by a drunk driver?
If you want to make a claim against the drunk person who endangered your life and the whole community, you should contact a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help deal with the insurance company that is protecting the drunk driver. And equally important, a lawyer can help gather the evidence for a drunk driving crash case. Some police departments do not hold onto body and dash camera footage, so it’s important to obtain that footage before it’s too late. Contacting a lawyer sooner than later is crucial to ensuring that you receive the compensation that you deserve.