John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Even today, the role of evidence has not shrunk or changed one bit in civil trial law. Your future and our rights hinge on what evidence is allowed and how it is used.
The fact is, when someone files a personal injury claim, the evidence is of the utmost importance. It provides the court with the truth. It provides the plaintiff with a solid argument. It provides the defendant a reason to honor the plaintiff and accept liability.
When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, discovery is the process during which evidence comes to the forefront, allowing each party to find the truth of the matter through the understanding of evidence.
As such, from the moment you are involved an accident, gathering a wide range of evidence can be beneficial to your case moving forward. Even more important, you should know what to do to avoid sabotaging your case.
Gathering Proper Evidence Can Help Solidify Your Case
Before a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, the parties must go through the discovery process. During this time before the trial, both the plaintiff and defendant’s representation will collect various forms of evidence that can be used to help solidify a case.
Some of the evidence obtained during discovery can include the following:
- Witness Testimony: Witnesses are an integral part of the trial process when the witness is credible. Reliable witnesses can corroborate one side of the story or another. For plaintiffs, having witnesses whose stories match their own can help to form a strong case strategy during the trial.
- Statements from Both Parties: The legal counsel can ask straight-forward, fact-based questions of the other party to gather as much information as possible. This can be used to determine if there are any discrepancies in the statements provided.
- Photographic Audience: One bit of advice drivers should know is that if they are involved in a collision, they should take photographs of the damage to the vehicle, the scene, and any injuries sustained. This can be used to show definitive evidence that the accident resulted in damages.
- Medical Records: Both parties can collect medical records as proof that the plaintiff did, in fact, sustain an injury. The plaintiff’s doctor can seek medical attention and use these records to prove what kind of injury they sustained, and the doctor can identify if the accident caused it.
The importance of evidence cannot be overstated. Proper evidence can entice the defendant to offer an adequate settlement, or encourage a judgment from the court. Evidence alters the course of a case at its very foundation.
Specific Actions May Result in a Plaintiff Losing Their Right to Compensation
What many people do not tell you is that plaintiffs can accidentally sabotage their case and prevent them from getting what they need to recover. There are certain actions—even phrases!—that can shift liability in a case and allow the defendant to be free of any responsibility, even if they were 100% at-fault.
After a crash, the initial shock is enough to cause someone to make mistakes, especially when you make the first step to speak with the other party. Moreover, empathy often takes over, so one of the first things a person does is apologize. While “I am sorry” may not seem like a bad thing to say, it can be used against you by the insurance company as an admission of guilt.
Other statements may be harmful to your case such as “I did not see you there,” or “I thought I had room.” These may seem like they are no big deal and you are just trying to sympathize with the other party, but if they note the statement and tell the insurance company, this will be weaponized against you.
Another common mistake that sabotages cases is failing to get medical treatment following an accident. It is important to know that some injuries may not appear or manifest right away. This does not mean an accident victim should avoid going to the hospital to get checked out immediately after the accident.
Immediate medical attention establishes records that could play a significant role in your case, but if you do not seek medical care, the defendant may argue that you did not sustain an injury from the accident. Instead, they can say you were not injured at all, or your injury occurred from something else.
Even if you do not feel injured, seek medical attention.
How Defendants Dispute Specific Evidence
When brought up during discovery or trial, the evidence is often disputed by the defendant to devalue a plaintiff’s claim. For instance, if a plaintiff brings a witness forward, the defendant may challenge the credibility of that witness on a number of grounds.
They may argue that the witness was not fully paying attention, and thus did not see the entire accident and what led to it. They may say the witness has a history of dishonesty or they have a medical condition that would alter their perception of the accident.
No matter the situation, if the defendant’s argument regarding the credibility of a witness is enough to convince the court, the evidence may not be used to support your claim.
Photographs can also be disputed, as well as medical records that are not obtained immediately following the accident. Accident survivors can expect defendants to look for every possible way to hang liability on the victims to avoid paying compensation or accepting responsibility.
The Best Option Is to Have Legal Counsel on Your Side
The evidence is the bedrock of all legal claims. Claims without evidence are often torn apart or dismissed by the judge, and juries are told to focus on the evidence of a case, regardless of personal sympathies. While your pain and suffering is enough to make any juror feel empathy, they cannot decide in your favor without the proper evidence to support it.
It is not enough to just say that someone caused an accident and you sustained an injury. You have to go to great lengths to obtain the evidence necessary to show that it is a fact, not opinion.
This is where the help of a skilled legal professional come in.
At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we recognize the importance of evidence and its ability to make a difference in your case. We do not just seek compensation. We seek justice—because you deserve it.