5 Types of Evidence That Can Disappear Quickly After an Auto Accident

5 Types of Evidence That Can Disappear Quickly After an Auto Accident.

When a car accident occurs, there is critical evidence that will not be available for long. Understanding what evidence is at risk and the immediate steps to take is crucial for anyone involved in an accident. Key types of evidence that can disappear after an auto accident include measurements, witness statements, and electronic information such as surveillance videos and vehicle downloads. Preservation letters can help prevent the loss of crucial evidence. But also, it is even better if you can quickly collect this information rather than rely on the defense to save it. Note that these are typical pieces of evidence, but every case requires an independent evaluation of what crucial evidence must be gathered. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in determining this important information.  


The scene of an accident is full of metrics that tell the untold story behind the crash. Precise measurements of skid marks, the positioning of vehicles, and the spread of debris give insights into speed, trajectory, and impact. However, these can be quickly erased by weather, traffic, or cleanup operations. Immediate documentation is therefore essential to preserve these fleeting details.  After ensuring that you and others involved in the accident are safe and out of harm’s way, you should always collect your own photo and video evidence of the scene, including the position of and damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the crash.  

Witness Statements 

Eyewitness accounts can provide invaluable perspectives on the accident. But as seconds tick by, the clarity of these statements can dim. Memories falter, and finding witnesses becomes increasingly difficult as time passes. Prompt collection of these testimonies is necessary to capture accurate representations of the event. In addition to the visual documentation described above, you should record your recollection of the crash, whether in writing or audio/video recording. It is also vital to collect statements and contact information, including the names and phone numbers, for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, such as anyone who stopped to assist those involved.  If a person calls 911, once the case is involved in litigation, your lawyer can file a motion to try to locate any witnesses who called after observing the crash. Given the privacy concerns, this typically requires a court order.  

Vehicle Downloads 

In an era where our cars are as connected as our smartphones, they hold a variety of data. From the route traveled to the force of impact, modern vehicles record essential information. Yet, this data is not permanent. It can be overwritten, especially when vehicles are moved or examined post-accident.  There are so many unknowns when it comes to auto accidents, so every bit of information is valuable! Securing vehicle data immediately ensures that it can be analyzed later. The process may vary for your particular vehicle, so check your vehicle’s manual and/or manufacturer’s website for guidance.  

Certain cars, like Tesla’s and select others, have built-in capabilities to record and store driving data. This can be valuable in accident scenarios, providing clear evidence of the moments before, during, and after a crash. Acquiring this data requires technical knowledge and awareness of privacy laws—a task best handled by professionals. Lipinski Law is connected with experts who can ensure that the proper procedure is followed.  

Hiring an Expert Early 

Evidence collection and interpretation is a complex process best undertaken by experts. Lipinski Law understands this and supports clients by fronting the cost of expert services. These experts act swiftly to gather perishable evidence, using their specialized skills to support a client’s case. 

Other Forms of Evidence That May Disappear 

Beyond those discussed above, other critical pieces of evidence demand quick action. Surveillance videos from street cameras or nearby businesses, vehicle parts, and personal items are just a few examples. Each piece can play a vital role in the narrative of the accident and must be secured without delay. 

What Happens if Evidence is Spoliated?  

Florida courts have recognized a cause of action for spoliation of evidence against third parties that arises when a person, though not a party to the underlying litigation, causes damage to the plaintiff when the non-party loses, misplaces, or destroys evidence critical to the case. The Fifth District Court of Appeal decision in Shamrock-Shamrock, Inc. v. Remark, 271 So. 3d 1200 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019), addresses the issue of when the non-party witness owes a duty to preserve evidence for the litigation.  A full Florida bar journal on the subject can be found here: https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/spoliation-of-evidence-and-non-party-witnesses/

Adverse Inference Jury Instruction:

If evidence that was properly requested to be preserved is not, the affected party may ask the court for a specific jury instruction that provides an adverse inference to the party who didn’t save the evidence.


 a. Adverse inference. If you find that: (Name of party) [lost] [destroyed] [mutilated] [altered] [concealed] or otherwise caused the (describe evidence) to be unavailable, while it was within [his] [her] [its] possession, custody, or control; and the (describe evidence) would have been material in deciding the disputed issues in this case; then you may, but are not required to, infer that this evidence would have been unfavorable to (name of party). You may consider this, together with the other evidence, in determining the issues of the case.

This helps the affected party to prove their case without the missing evidence.  Requests for such information must be timely filed with the court. 


Evidence at an accident scene is crucial but can be lost quickly for a variety of reasons. For those involved in an auto accident, understanding what needs to be captured and preserved—and doing so swiftly—is essential. With the expertise and support of Lipinski Law, clients can rest assured that no stone will be left unturned in the quest to protect their rights and present the strongest possible case. 

For immediate assistance and detailed counsel following an auto accident, reach out to Lipinski Law via phone at 561-453-4800 or the Confidential Consultation form on our website! Let us help you navigate the aftermath with the support you deserve!

[1] https://supremecourt.flcourts.gov/content/download/243071/file/entire-Document.pdf

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