In any personal injury lawsuit, the presentation of evidence is key for winning a damages award. Properly submitted evidence not only helps when determining fault in a personal injury case- it can also affect the amount of damages that are awarded to the injured plaintiff.
Failure to collect or present evidence in a personal injury claim can be harmful for the victim’s case. Thus, it’s important to know what evidence should be presented in connection with an injury lawsuit.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or intentional acts of another party, you’ll want to collect and present the following forms of evidence:
- Physical Evidence: Physical evidence is any tangible object, such as a piece of a broken tail light or a shred of clothing. You’ll want to collect such items and try not to alter their condition after the accident. Newer technology often allows for advanced analysis of physical items, to help determine which party was at fault.
- Evidence from the Scene of the Accident or Injury: Often times the surrounding environment played a part in an accident. For example, skid marks, broken traffic lights, slippery floors, even the location of the sun at a certain time of day can provide helpful information. You may want to make written descriptions and/or take photos of the scene of the injury.
- Documentation: Be sure to keep important papers, forms, and records related to your injury. This includes hospital bills, traffic/police incident reports, insurance statements and policies, signed statements by the other party, pay stubs for lost wages, and receipts for other expenses like vehicle repairs.
- Witness Testimony: The observations and input of witnesses are also very important. Remember, witness testimony also includes oral statements made at the time of the incident, statements made after the event, as well as any written statements that were recorded.
- Photos/Video: If you can, take pictures of videos of evidence that can be used for your case. For example, you may want to photograph any automobile damage before they get repaired. Nowadays most cell phones can capture good quality images.
Don’t discount any items that could serve a purpose during your trial- the more evidence, the better. Your lawyer and the court system will help to determine which evidence can be admitted to the record or not, so don’t hesitate to gather as much information as you can before trial begins.
What Should I do With Evidence After I’ve Collected it?
After collecting items for evidence, you should make sure to preserve them and keep them in a safe place. Ideally, you’ll want to turn over your evidence to a lawyer, who will hold it for safekeeping until the right time. Some types of evidence can become useless if they are altered in any way before they are submitted during trial.
You may wish to begin organizing what you’ve collected so that it’s easier to work with later. It’s especially important to keep your documents in order, because there can be a lot of paper work you’ll be handling. Be sure to make copies and to keep originals well protected.
Important: Be sure to keep your evidence private and confidential. You should refrain posting images or statements regarding your claim on the internet and on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social media websites can sometimes be accessed for legal purpose and entered in as evidence. For example, some people are in the habit of posting photos after a car accident or injury and posting statements like, “Look at how lucky I was to survive this accident”. Such information could be used against you if it finds its way into court, so be sure to avoid divulging such information. If there is a conflict between your claims and your information online, it could ruin your case.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With my Personal Injury Case?
As you may be able to tell, presenting evidence in a personal injury claim is very important. It can also be complicated and challenging at times. It’s to your benefit to hire a personal injury lawyer for help with your personal injury claim. Your lawyer can help you organize your evidence to maximize your chances of successfully obtaining legal relief. Laws governing evidence can vary widely by state, so be sure to ask your attorney if you have any legal concerns.