Meadville Tribune

Letter of the Law

March 27, 2006

The Importance of Gathering Evidence at the scene of an Accident

by Alan Pepicelli Esq.





The Importance of Gathering Evidence at the scene of an Accident

by Alan Pepicelli Esq.



Accident cases are evaluated, won and lost depending upon the quality, strengths, and weaknesses of the evidence supporting the client’s claim. Under the law, the burden of proof is always upon the injured party to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence, first, that the injury was caused as the result of the negligence of another person, and secondly, the extent of damages sustained as the result of such injury.



Often, by the time a client seeks legal assistance, valuable evidence has been disposed of or has otherwise disappeared; witnesses have been overlooked or have been first approached by the other side; and important facts have been lost.



The purpose of this article is to focus upon some preliminary considerations to assure the preservation of valuable evidence which may be critical in the ultimate pursuit of a claim.



I. OBTAINING BASIC INFORMATION:



The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code specifically requires notification to the nearest police department in the event of any accident which involves injury or death to any person, or damage to any vehicle of such extent that it cannot be driven. Consequently, it is critical to notify the local police department if possible, prior to leaving the scene of the accident, in the event that any injury is suspected.



The Vehicle Code further provides that parties to every accident exchange basic information including name, address, registration number of the vehicle, insurance information, and exhibit their driver’s license upon request. It is generally advisable, in addition to any statutory requirements, to obtain the following general information at the scene of the accident, or as soon thereafter as is reasonable:

Other operator’s full name, address and telephone number.

Other operator’s date of birth.

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