Gathering and preserving evidence in a personal injury case is a crucial step in formulating a strong case of liability. Without tangible personal injury evidence, there is a good chance the likelihood of receiving an adequate settlement or payout amount will fall drastically. Some examples of tangible evidence include:
- Photos and videos
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Police Reports, Also known as incident reports
- Public records
- Physical evidence such as damaged property or the dent in the car showing where it was hit
- Lost wages as a result of the injury
You should begin gathering evidence as soon as possible for a personal injury case. On-the-scene evidence is the most preferred type of evidence because it gives insurance adjusters, the insurance company, and/or courtrooms a firsthand view of the situation. You should collect evidence by legal means only. When collecting certain types of evidence, such as statements or information from other parties on the scene, you should do so in an objective manner – simply ask the necessary questions without evoking emotion or mentioning your own opinion.
What are the 4 Types of Evidence?
- Real Evidence – real evidence consists of tangible things (objects involved in the personal injury)
- Demonstrative – demonstrative evidence acts as models to demonstrate what occurred in the situation – such as recreations.
- Documentary – documentary evidence is any document or record that can be used as evidence.
- Testimonial – testimonial evidence involves witness testimonies, expert testimonies, and party testimonies.
Physical Evidence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Tangible, real evidence, i.e. something you can hold in your hand, is sometimes more persuasive in proving a personal injury case simply because it makes the extent of the injury or accident immediately apparent.
For example, if bloodied and torn clothing is kept and presented to the defense, it is obvious the accident caused significant injury. The sight of physical evidence can be very helpful in establishing a burden of proof. Keep all real evidence organized and well-preserved. If you have photos or documents, keep them dated and retain backup copies. Physical articles such as bloodied clothing should be kept in bags, labeled, and documented. Labels should include detailed notes on how the items play into your case.
Documentation as Personal Injury Evidence
Photos, documents, testimonials, and reports can be the strongest types of evidence in a personal injury case. On-the-scene photos and videos are very helpful, and follow-up photos are necessary as well.
You should document injuries using photos. Make sure to take daily photos to record the healing process of any injuries you suffered from the incident. All pieces of evidence should be photographed, especially those too difficult to physically present to an insurance adjuster or the court. Examples of these include photos of damaged property, such as damage to your automobile after a car accident. Any and all documents that you receive that are in any way related to your personal injury should also be saved and organized. If you lose a document, your personal injury attorney may be able to use legal methods in order to acquire a copy. You should always save any documents that you acquire throughout your personal injury.
Testimonials as Personal Injury Evidence
Third party witness testimony can also be a useful tool to enhance your liability argument in a personal injury case. You will want to physically write down everything that a witness tells you word-for-word. Do not alter their statements in any way. You will also want to get all third party witnesses ‘ contact information in case your lawyer deems it necessary to follow-up. Along with witness testimony, you will need to write down your own recollection of the events, which can be used as evidence as well. Your testimony needs to be as objective as possible – keep it factual and unadulterated by your personal opinion and emotions as possible.
Police Reports as Personal Injury Evidence
Police reports and authority reports are very common types of documentation personal injury evidence and can be extremely helpful in supporting your claim.
After an accident has occurred, whether it be a car accident or slip and fall, it is important to document the incident with local law enforcement. After contacting emergency personnel, wait for responding officers to arrive and do not leave the scene of the accident. If medical treatment is needed, paramedics will administer help.
While for some injuries, it may seem unnecessary to call the police and an ambulance, it is important to have documentation of the accident in the form of a police report. The facts and detailed descriptions of what happened, from both sides, can help your case down the road.
Always contact the police and first responders. Always collect authority and first responder information (name, badge number, the district they serve, office phone number, etc.) Always make sure that all first responders are keeping reports of the incident and that you will have access to these reports. If you are denied access, your personal injury attorney will likely be able to acquire them through legal processes later on.
Other Forms of Personal Injury Evidence
There are many different forms of evidence that are relevant to individual cases. Personal injury lawsuits cover a broad spectrum of incidents, each type containing specific pieces of evidence that differ from others.
For some personal injury cases, the evidence is more difficult to collect. For example, it is very difficult to present evidence to prove mental distress caused by a personal injury. In this case, a credible expert may be necessary to plead on behalf of the injured party. In these circumstances, a personal injury lawyer can help to not only determine how to find the evidence, but also provide it for your argument.
Personal injury evidence is an essential part of establishing and proving a lawsuit. Without evidence, it would be incredibly difficult to prove a personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Evidence Frequently Asked Questions
These are common questions about evidence that we receive as personal injury lawyers:
What is the Preponderance of Evidence?
In a civil lawsuit, the preponderance of evidence equates to the evidence that carries greater weight for the trier of fact (judge or jury) to decide in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant. It does not matter how much evidence either side presents – the preponderance of each side’s evidence is based on the more probable, accurate, and convincing evidence, rather than amount alone.
What Percentage is Clear and Convincing Evidence?
“Clear and convincing” is a standard that evidence must meet in order to be considered probable, accurate, and convincing. In order to meet the standard, the evidence must be much greater than a 50% likelihood of being true.
What Evidence is Admissible in Court?
Evidence that is admissible in court must be relevant to the event while not considered unfairly prejudicial, confusing, privileged, or based on hearsay.
What is Substantial Evidence?
The substantial evidence rule is a principle that states evidence used to come to a judgment in a lawsuit would hold strength if a reviewing party were to rule on it.
What is Conclusive Evidence?
Conclusive evidence is evidence that is so strong that it cannot be challenged.
Gathering Evidence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit: A Review
Gathering and preserving evidence in a personal injury lawsuit is one of the most crucial steps in ensuring your case is successful. There are various types of evidence to consider, and many legal precedents to be aware of, but a personal injury attorney can help.
Obtaining legal support and guidance is essential when dealing with a personal injury. An attorney should handle the specifics of your case while you focus on your mental and physical recovery. You can do your part in providing evidence and helping your attorney when they require it, but your main concern should be mitigating your injuries and submitting relevant evidence to your legal representation.
Learn More About the Lawsuit Process:
- Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
- Assessing Damages
- What are Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages?
- Receiving Compensation
- General Liability Guide
- Premises Liability Guide
- What is a Bellwether Trial?
- What is a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?
- Statute of Limitations Guide
- What are the Steps in a Civil Lawsuit?