Hands down, the most important factor when it comes to winning a personal injury case is evidence. You need solid evidence not just to prove your case but also to calculate how much financial compensation you should get for your losses and damages.
This holds true whether your personal injury was caused by a car accident, a construction accident, a defective product, or a slip and fall. Every personal injury case is deeply specific. Your success depends on the facts involved – and proving what actually happened.
Evidence comes in many forms. Some types of proof are more valuable and convincing than others – for example, direct evidence versus circumstantial evidence.
The more timely or “fresh” your evidence, the better. For example, if you’re getting photos or videos of the scene of your injury, you want to record the environment before any of the conditions change. The success of your case may depend on something as simple as the position or cut of a tree or hedge, the weather conditions on a particular stretch of road, or the way the light hits an intersection at a certain time of day.
In order to prove your personal injury case, you must show convincing evidence that someone acted negligently or recklessly and that caused you actual harm. To show that you suffered harm, you can present proof of your physical condition, your mental condition, your medical diagnosis, what types of treatment you’ll need, and your prognosis for recovery.
To avoid taking responsibility, the other side in your case may have a different version of how your injury happened. Your evidence must be stronger than theirs to win. A good personal injury lawyer can help you gather the most convincing evidence you need to maximize not only your chances of winning but also the total amount of damages you deserve.
What Is Negligence and How Do You Prove It?
Under the law, everyone has a duty of care to each other to act in a “reasonable and expected” way. Negligence happens when someone fails to take the proper or expected amount of responsibility for their actions. As a result, other people get hurt.
The proper standards of conduct may change depending on the circumstances.
For example, doctors must have the proper training and act according to the standards held by the general medical community. This might be a much higher standard than a simple bystander. Drivers must follow all traffic laws and must not operate vehicles when drunk. Construction companies must take industry-standard safety precautions.
In California, it’s illegal to text and drive. Doing so could be negligent “distracted driving.”
Negligence could look like doing anything someone isn’t supposed to do – running a red light, speeding over the limit, or hiding a dangerous condition on a property.
If your personal injury case goes to trial, you have the burden of proof to convince a judge or jury that your version of events is more likely than not to have happened. This is called a preponderance of the evidence. However, many personal injury cases never go to trial. In those situations, evidence might actually be what helps you avoid going to court.
If your evidence is so convincing that the defendant believes you’d win in court, they’ll be much more likely to negotiate a proper settlement offer. A strong case makes you more likely to get what you’re fully owed because you have greater negotiation power.
Fortunately, personal injury lawyers are experienced at spotting negligence and calling it out. Your attorney can help guide you on which types of evidence would work best in your case.
Best Types of Evidence to Present in a Personal Injury Case
- Physical Evidence – Physical injuries involve physical evidence. You can bring physical evidence to court if it’s a small enough item – a tool or weapon, for example. If you were harmed by a defective product, the product itself could be evidence. Otherwise, photo or video records are the next best thing. In the case of a car accident, you can show photos of the vehicles involved or even weather reports for the time of the crash.
- Evidence From the Scene – Photos and videos of the scene of your accident can be invaluable in a case. Is there debris on the ground, tire skid marks, or broken glass? Have other people suffered similar accidents or injuries at the same location? Does the road or property have dangerous conditions that create unreasonable risks?
- Witness Testimony – Even when you know you’re right, having someone back up your version of events never hurts. Your case could benefit greatly from eyewitness testimony or even a police report filed by the officer who responded to the scene.
- Injury Documentation – The more severe your injuries, the greater the impact will be on your life. X-rays, MRIs, doctor’s notes, and other medical documents can help spell out just how much harm you actually suffered. The more disabling your injury, the more likely you are to be unable to work or need treatment long-term.
Proving and Calculating Your Maximum Damages
Proving negligence is just the start. The point of a personal injury lawsuit is to get you financial compensation to offset what you’ve lost. Once you establish the cause of your injury, you must show evidence of the effects of that injury on your life. This is called your damages.
The more severe your injuries, the greater your damages should be to reflect what you’ve suffered. If you need medical treatment or physical therapy for the rest of your life, then your personal injury lawsuit should cover every cent. If you become disabled after your injury and can no longer work, your claim should cover your lost income. After all, your injury wasn’t your fault.
To prove the full extent of your damages, you can show:
- Medical tests, diagnoses, and doctor’s notes about your injury
- Patient outcomes from others who have suffered similar injuries
- Notes from mental health professionals about your emotional pain and suffering
Even if your case doesn’t go to trial, a good lawyer will prep as if they’re ready to go to court and win. The more proof you have, the harder your case will be to fight. The other side knows that if they try to fight you in court, they’ll lose the case and lose money. This is why they’ll be much more likely to offer a good settlement during negotiations to avoid going to trial.
Wherever you are in California, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sepulveda Sanchez Law can help with your case. Click here to contact our talented team of lawyers now.