Most people outside of legal circles think of evidence as an integral part of criminal cases, but evidence is a critical factor in civil cases as well, including personal injury claims. When a person sustains a serious injury through no fault of their own but due to another party’s negligence, reckless behavior, or intentional wrongdoing, the party at fault for the injury must pay damages.
Compensation for damages usually comes through the appropriate insurance company, such as personal injury protection from an auto insurance policy after a car accident, or premises liability insurance in a slip and fall case. In personal injury cases, the injury victim must prove liability on the part of the negligent party who caused the injury.
Proving liability requires demonstrating negligence by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Backing every claim in a personal injury case with evidence is essential for proving the case, but what counts as evidence? What type of evidence plays a role in personal injury claims?
Physical Evidence in Personal Injury Claims
Physical evidence is a critical part of proving a personal injury claim both when negotiating with insurance companies for a settlement or arguing the case in court if it proceeds to a lawsuit. Examples of physical evidence in personal injury claims include tangible items like:
- A damaged vehicle
- Damaged personal property
- Open alcohol containers
- Drug paraphernalia
- A defective product
- Visible physical injuries
Tangible hard evidence in personal injury claims makes a powerful statement and becomes the backbone of a strong personal injury case.
Photographic, Video, and Audio Evidence in a Personal Injury Case
Other important forms of evidence in personal injury cases are photographs, audio recordings, and videos which capture a moment in time and preserve it for future use. Depending on the type of injury, photographs, videos, and audio recordings could include:
- Photos of damaged vehicles and damaged property
- Photos of skid marks
- Traffic camera and dashcam videos
- Surveillance videos
- Cellphone video
- Photos of safety hazards on a property
- Photos from social media posts
- Photos of physical injuries
- Audio recordings of 911 calls
Photos, videos, and audio recordings provide compelling evidence of the way an injury occurred and the extent of the injury. Photos also preserve evidence in time so insurance adjusters and jury members have access to visual images of the accident, injury, and damages for months or even years later.
Documentary Evidence in Personal Injury Claims
Documents and records become critical evidence in personal injury cases, showing both how an injury occurred and what damages the injury victim has suffered as a consequence. Examples of documentary evidence in personal injury cases include the following:
- Police reports
- Accident or incident reports from a commercial business or workplace
- Medical reports
- Medical bills
- Prescription receipts
- Employer statements, paycheck stubs, and tax forms
- Repair bills or invoices
- Insurance paperwork
- Electronic documentary evidence such as emails and texts
Documents provide key evidence of the severity of an injury, the way an injury occurred, and the economic damages caused by the injury.
Witness Testimony in Personal Injury Cases
Witness testimony provides critical evidence in personal injury cases. Testimony from injury victims themselves and from eyewitnesses to an accident can paint a thorough picture of the events leading up to the accident and injury as well as the moments during and after the injury’s occurrence.
Expert witnesses are often used in personal injury cases to provide testimony, including:
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Medical experts
- Security experts
- Economic experts
- Life-care planners
- Vocational experts
- Mental health experts
- Manufacturing experts
Depending on the type of injury, the right expert testimony provides important insight.
Defendants in Personal Injury Claims
Proving a personal injury case requires strong evidence to counteract a defendant’s attempt to deny liability for the injury or an insurance company’s tactics used to undervalue or deny a claim. An experienced Westminster personal injury attorney understands how to collect and preserve key evidence to support a case.