Relevant Types of Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
The unfortunate reality is that many people are injured each day in California because of the negligent or intentional actions of someone else. Such events can cause significant pain and suffering. They also usually wreak financial havoc on the victim, such as through lost wages, medical bills, property damage and more. A personal injury lawsuit could result in essential financial compensation for the victim. The strength of a personal injury case is rooted in the evidence presented by your personal injury attorney in and out of the courtroom. What are some of the effective types of evidence that can be used in your personal injury case?
Physical evidence includes the various items that were associated with the incident. For example, for a workplace injury accident, damaged equipment and tools may be introduced as evidence. For a car accident, some of the vehicle’s damaged parts may be brought into the courtroom. For many types of injury accidents, the victim’s clothing could be used as well.
In many cases, the physical evidence is too large to bring into a courtroom. If this is the case for your injury accident lawsuit, photos taken at the scene may be used. Photos may be of the vehicles, equipment or other items involved in the incident. They may also be of conditions at the scene, such as a street scene showing the location of traffic signs. An alternative to photos is video evidence. Video may offer a more comprehensive view of a car, truck or bus accident scene.
It is necessary for your attorney to document the financial impact of the injury to the victim. Because of this, injury documentation is a critical element in workplace incidents, delivery truck accidents and all other types of personal injury cases in California.
This documentation may include medical records and bills. It may also include insurance policy documentation, including coverage statements and settlement statements. If a victim is claiming lost wages related to the incident, pay stubs are an important piece of evidence to introduce. Other documentation that may be introduced by your California attorney may include a police report from the accident, property damage repair bills and more.
Because medical evidence is an important aspect of your lawsuit, a closer look at this type of evidence is in order. Ideally, the victim will seek medical treatment at the scene or immediately after the incident takes place. Emergency room treatment introduces the severity of the injuries to the court. In serious injury accidents, however, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications and more could also be involved in the individual’s overall treatment. Documentation for these treatments and services may include both medical records and bills. X-rays, lab results and other documentation may be included in your medical records.
Keep in mind that not all injuries from an accident may be noticed immediately. After any type of serious accident, it is important to seek medical treatment from your doctor or a California hospital. Underlying issues that may have been masked by adrenaline or that may not yet be apparent may surface during an examination.
In many types of injury accidents in California, a police officer will respond at the scene. He or she will generally gather facts from all parties, including witnesses. A report will be generated based on witness accounts and the officer’s observations at the scene. The police officer will also determine if any laws have been broken. If so, citations will be issued accordingly. In some cases, the police report is inconclusive in the important area of blame or causation. However, the facts observed and collected by the law enforcement officer can be introduced as evidence in the case. These facts can serve as a basis for building your case.
Your personal injury attorney may use witness testimony for a few important purposes. For example, witnesses may strengthen your case or introduce new facts to the court. Keep in mind that a witness does not have to be physically present in a courtroom. A video testimony or a deposition may yield the same results.
Some witnesses who may give testimony in your case are those who were at the scene. These may be people who were physically involved in the accident, such as passengers in a car accident. They may also be observers who were not involved in the incident. For example, the observers may be co-workers, supervisors or even customers at the scene of a workplace injury accident.
Witnesses may also be called by your California attorney to give expert testimony that is relevant to the case. These are qualified experts who may have extensive training, experience and education related to a specific aspect of the case. For example, a physician may be called to testify on the nature and severity of injuries. Engineers are commonly called to provide testimony on workplace accident cases and car accident cases.
Other Types of Evidence
Your California attorney may introduce other types of evidence to support or build your case. For example, you may be trying to prove fault in a car accident case because the driver was using his or her phone. The driver’s phone records may be introduced as evidence to show that the driver was either talking or texting at the time of the incident. Such evidence may be direct evidence if the driver was alone in the vehicle. However, the defense may state that a passenger was using the driver’s phone if there was another person in the vehicle. If this is the case, the phone records would be considered circumstantial. More evidence may be introduced to show that the driver was the one using the phone. For example, a printout of the text conversation or testimony from the person who was on the other end of the line can be introduced in the case.
Many types of evidence can be destroyed or tampered with. Eyewitnesses may forget pertinent details that could make your case. In some cases, businesses or individuals will destroy evidence, such as by recording over video evidence, so that the video cannot be used in the case. Even independent parties, such as cell phone providers, may unintentionally damage essential records or evidence. Damage to evidence is legally referred to as spoliation.
Ideally, your personal injury attorney will take steps to gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after the incident occurs. If this is not possible given the nature of the evidence, the attorney will send a letter to the person or business that holds the evidence. This spoliation letter specifically states that the evidence must be safeguarded so that it can be presented in the courtroom.
Investigation and Discovery
Soon after your initial consultation with your personal injury attorney, he or she will begin the process of investigation. This is when you will be asked to submit all the records, photos, videos, receipts and other documentation that you have collected to your attorney. Your attorney will review all documentation to determine what is relevant. Through this review, the attorney will decide how to build a successful case on your behalf. The decision about seeking expert witness testimony and getting a subpoena for other evidence may be made as well. Keep in mind that not all cases go to court. The information collected during the investigation phase may also be used in structuring a settlement and negotiating with insurance companies.
The plaintiff’s attorney and the defendant’s attorney are required to share the information and documentation that they have collected during the investigation phase. This gives the defense the ability to develop a solid argument to counter the evidence. At the same time, it enables your California attorney to further develop his or her arguments and to determine if additional witnesses or evidence should be used to strengthen the case.
The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation
You can see that the evidence available in a case is essential in achieving the desired outcome. Your attorney must be able to successfully build a case around the existing evidence and seek additional evidence as needed to strengthen the case. More than that, the evidence must be presented logically to support your case’s arguments.
If you have been involved in a personal injury accident, it is important to start working with an experienced California attorney as soon as possible. Now is the right time to start pursuing justice by scheduling a complimentary legal consultation.