Collection of evidence in case of road accidents in India can be rather complicated. This article breaks down the ways one can ensure proper evidence collection in the face of any road mishap.
In the cases of road accidents, we need to get evidence of the damage/injuries caused mainly for claiming damages later in the court. It is of prime importance that a person involved in an accident should collect important evidence. No matter how minor the accident may seem, it is very important that you should collect evidence of the accident.
For instance, take photographs of the damage caused to your car and other properties. This will help if a claimant or any insurer challenges your claim. Also, witnesses who were there at the time of the evidence can help corroborate the evidence given by you. It is also very important that you should build your claim and report to the proper authorities before it is too late because both memory and physical evidence will fade over time.
Clicking photographs is not always practical in case a person was in an accident but assuming that the person is in a condition to click pictures, he/she should take photos of the scene from various angles. Also, photos of the collision, skid marks, traffic signals and other essential things will be very helpful to determine whose fault it was.
Taking close up photos of the damages caused to your vehicles can act as proof. A person can also take photos of the damage caused to oneself. This would come in handy in the court later when the question of damages arises.
Another kind of accident that is generally seen is ‘hit and run’. Never drive away if you are involved in an accident. Each driver involved in an accident is supposed to stop and exchange information with the other driver. If a driver does not stop after the accident, it is a crime of “hit and run”.
In case a driver does not stop after causing the accident, try to take the photo of his number plate and inform it to the police, which will later help in identifying the particular driver and his vehicle. If the driver does stop, then you should get his contact information which is written on the driver’s licence. If they do not have the driver’s license, then the contact information can also be found in the car registration card or car insurance card.
You should also get the contact information of the pedestrians and other people who were not involved in the car accident but have seen the incident. They can also provide evidence. This will be helpful during the proceedings of the case as they can be produced as witnesses at the scene of the accident.
In case you have reported the incident to the police authorities, you should get a copy of the police report made by the police officer. The police report is a public document and you can always ask for a copy of the same. The police report will contain all the information of the incident and will also include the officer’s view of who was at fault.
It does not matter whether you agree to everything on the police report or not but you should always get a copy which can be produced later as evidence. The police report is, however, not of conclusive value because the police officer making the report probably did not witness the scene but the report can be of persuasive value.
In cases of road accidents, it is very essential to collect and preserve any kind of evidence that you can find. It may be the photo of the accident or it may also be a physical object which can be used as evidence. Physical evidence may include hair, bloodstains, paints, glass fragments etc., and any other thing that can help in the detection of the people and their vehicles involved in the accident.
Collection of evidence means the collection of essential data not only for the identification of the vehicle or the people involved in the crime but also for making various policy decisions for effective road traffic injury prevention. Road safety policies have to be based on valid and reliable evidence. Therefore, it is also very important to ensure the reliability of the data collected and also the methods used to collect and analyse the data and generate evidence.
The collection and production of valid reliable evidence will help in a number of ways:
- For describing the burden of road traffic injuries
- Assessing different risk factors
- Establishing resources and allocating resources accordingly for the prevention of road traffic injuries
- Development and evaluation of interventions
- Providing information that will help the policymakers and decision-makers
- Raising awareness among people
Road traffic accidents are very common in our country. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued a report on road accidents in India in 2018, which showed that road accidents in that year increased by 0.46% as compared to 2017.
“A total of 4,67,044 road accidents have been reported by States and Union Territories (UTs) in the calendar year 2018, claiming 1,51,417 lives and causing injuries to 4,69,418 persons”, the report said. Over-speeding accounted for 64.4% of the persons killed. India ranks 1st in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries reported in the World Road Statistics, 2018.
With this increasing number of road accidents in the country, it is very important to implement better policies that will help avoid or minimise road accidents.
Indian roads should be under the surveillance of speed detection devices. The traffic police departments from various different states use high-tech speed trap cameras and radars to catch the speed violators. Gujarat government has equipped the traffic police department with high-tech laser guns for the detection of the speed of vehicles. This equipment should be given to all the traffic police authorities across India and prompt action should be taken in case a person is found over speeding.
However, with regard to the collection of evidence, if an accident occurs, both physical evidence and electronic evidence are of high value but in many cases, it is not possible for the person involved in the accident to take photos or collect evidence from the spot. In that case, he can ask the people present there to do the same or he may leave it to the police.
It is important to collect evidence as soon as possible because it gets destroyed with time.
Since accidents occur on the road where many vehicles are plying continuously, people often drive the vehicle away from the spot. If the accident is severe enough to make the vehicle undrivable, then the vehicle is generally towed to a safe place. Moving the vehicles from their actual position during the accident can cause evidence erosion.
For example, if the vehicles are moved from their actual position, it becomes very difficult to prove if one of the drivers was driving from the wrong side. In those cases, witnesses who may give testimony on who was driving from the wrong side are required. To avoid these types of problems of erosion of evidence, it is necessary to click photos so that it can be provided as evidence.
However, whatever may be the case, it is necessary to ensure your own safety and the safety of the other driver in case you are not seriously injured yourself. There can be cases where the injured party is a passer-by or a pedestrian. In those cases too, ensure the safety of the injured and take that person to the hospital as early as possible.
As already said earlier, do not drive away in case of a road accident. Always stop and enquire who was injured and exchange information with the other driver. “Hit and run” is a serious offence in our country.
In case you are a passer-by and have witnessed an accident, you can always take the step to collect evidence if the party to the accident is injured, and you can also be a witness in court.
- Evidence in Car Accident Cases, JUSTIA Available Here
- Ward Smith, Physical Evidence in the Investigation of Traffic Accidents Available Here accessed 20 January 2019
- World Health Organisation, Road Traffic Injury Prevention, Unit 3 Available Here accessed 20 January 2019