Understanding Evidence in a Personal Injury Case
When you file a personal injury claim, you have the burden of proving that the other party caused your injuries. If you cannot meet your burden of proof, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
It may be difficult for you to gather evidence when you are recovering from accident injuries. Furthermore, an accident investigation could be expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, you may want to consider allowing a Houston personal injury attorney to do the work for you. Many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations.
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the rules of evidence for a personal injury case. We also understand how to track down all pieces of evidence that could help you win your case.
What Types of Evidence Are Used in Personal Injury Cases?
The evidence used to prove your case depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your injury. Each accident case is different. However, there are several types of evidence that are common in most personal injury cases.
Any material object that relates to the case. For example, physical evidence could include skid marks and property damage to the vehicles in a car accident case.
Testimony is a sworn statement or answers to questions by eyewitnesses, parties to the action, or expert witnesses. The person has information or knowledge that pertains to the allegations and disputed facts of the case.
The evidence contained in documents, such as medical records, driving records, cell phone records, a police report, car accident reports, social media accounts, and payroll records.
Evidence that leads to a reasonable assumption about a fact, even though the evidence merely implies a fact or circumstance.
Statements made to a person who is testifying in court by another person. Generally, hearsay is not admissible in most civil cases.
Rules of Evidence and the Burden of Proof
There are strict rules for how evidence may be presented and what evidence is admissible in court. The Federal Rules of Evidence and the Texas Rules of Evidence dictate what types of evidence and information may be used in court.
The defense team hired by an insurance company often files motions to suppress (prevent) evidence from being presented in court. The judge determines whether the evidence is admissible.
The burden of proof for a personal injury case is by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the evidence you present in court must convince the jury that there is more than a 50 percent chance that your claim is true.
What Evidence Do I Need to Win a Personal Injury Case?
Cases are generally won based on the totality of the evidence. However, there could be a key piece of evidence that swings the jury in your favor.
While no two personal injury cases are alike, evidence that is often presented in court includes:
The parties to the action may testify about what occurred. However, eyewitness testimony can be compelling for jurors. An eyewitness does not have a stake in the case’s outcome, so jurors may find eyewitness accounts more believable than the scenarios presented by the parties to the lawsuit.
Medical Records and Statements
You must prove that the accident or incident caused injuries and damages. Your medical records are critical pieces of evidence in an injury case.
Medical records may include:
- Statements and notes from physicians and health care providers
- Lab tests and imaging tests
- Therapy records
- Primary care and specialist medical records
- Pharmacy records
- Hospital, rehabilitation, and nursing facility records
- Ambulance records
Your attorney provides the insurance company with copies of your medical records during settlement negotiations. Do not sign a medical records release without seeking legal advice.
Photographs and Videos
Photographs and videos of the accident scene and your injuries are other powerful pieces of evidence used in injury cases. For example, a video of a car crash can be the deciding factor of fault in a case.
Police Reports and Accident Reports
Parts of a police report or accident report may be introduced as evidence at a trial. However, if the report contains hearsay, that portion of the report may be inadmissible.
Employment and Payroll Records
If you seek compensation for lost wages, you must prove how much income you lost because of accident injuries. Statements from your doctor verifying you could not work are combined with statements from your employer and evidence of income to determine the value of a lost wages claim.
Testimony From Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses may testify about specific areas related to the case. The expert witness can help jurors understand technical matters. Expert witnesses may also introduce research and studies that support your allegations.
If you’ve been injured in Texas, consult with a Houston personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options and learn what evidence might be used in your case.