What is Evidence?
Evidence is any information or data that can be used to make a fact more or less probable. Many facts need to be evaluated when you file a personal injury lawsuit. Many pieces of evidence will be used to evaluate these facts.
Evidence does not need to definitively prove or disprove the existence of a fact. Juries are tasked with weighing incomplete evidence all the time. They use their best judgment to make a decision based on the available evidence.
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Evidence Must Be Relevant
In a trial, the court will only allow each party to a lawsuit to admit evidence if it is relevant. In New York State Court, the test for relevance looks at whether the evidence has a tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence more or less probable.
Relevant evidence is generally admissible in a trial. Irrelevant evidence is generally inadmissible. However, sometimes exceptions apply that may allow or disallow a particular piece of evidence.
What Evidence Is Needed in a Personal Injury Case?
If your personal injury claim goes to trial, you’ll need to convince a jury of several things to win your case.
Some of the things you’ll need to show include:
- When and where the accident occurred
- Who was at fault for the accident
- What your damages were from the accident
The opposing party will also have the chance to provide evidence. Sometimes their evidence may contradict your evidence. The jury will have to decide how much weight to give each piece of evidence when they deliberate.
What Are Different Types of Evidence?
Car accidents and other personal injury cases may require any of the following types of evidence:
Getting an official police accident report can help your personal injury claim. This becomes the official record of where, when, and how the accident took place.
The police report is taken at the scene of the accident shortly after it happens. This evidence provides a detailed account of the accident when your memory is fresh. If the opposing party later offers a different version of events, the police report may be used to contradict their story.
Eyewitnesses to an accident may provide strong evidence of who was at fault. This is especially important when you and the opposing party have different perspectives on how the accident happened.
If possible, get the contact information of any witnesses of the accident. They may corroborate your story and help you show a jury how the accident unfolded.
Photographs can be strong evidence in a personal injury case. Images are sometimes weighed more heavily than words.
Photos of any of the following items may be used as evidence in your case:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Physical injuries, such as bleeding or bruises
- The area surrounding the accident
- The other driver’s vehicle
Photographs may be used to show fault in an accident. For example, if a photo of your vehicle clearly shows damage to the rear end, this would tend to show that the other driver hit you from behind.
In a rear-end collision like this, the other driver will often be partially or totally at-fault for the accident. Even if you were also partially at fault, you could still be entitled to recovery under the New York comparative negligence law.
Once you’ve shown that the other driver is at fault, you still have to offer evidence of your damages. Medical records are important evidence if you have physical injuries or emotional distress.
Medical records may be used to show damages in the following ways:
- The amount paid for medical expenses
- The extent of any temporary or permanent disabilities
- Physical restrictions that may prevent you from working or performing household duties
- Mental health issues caused by the accident or dealing with physical injuries
Pain and suffering is other critical issue. You should keep a pain journal and also get a medical professional’s opinion on the severity and duration of your pain. This will support a potential award of damages for the pain and suffering you’ve had to endure.
Sometimes a medical expert will also need to estimate how your injuries will continue to impact you in the future. If you’ll be dealing with a disability for the rest of your life, you’ll need to provide evidence of how this will affect you and what the associated costs will be.
Proof of Losses and Expenses Paid
There are many costs you may incur after an accident. If you want to seek compensation for these costs, you should carefully track them and keep all receipts and records.
You may need to provide proof for any of the following costs:
- Time missed at work
- Transportation to medical appointments
- Housekeeping or childcare
- Medical equipment or items not covered by insurance
- Modifications made to your home to accommodate your disability
You’ll need this proof both to show the amounts you’ve paid and how they were related to your injuries.
A personal injury attorney can help explain what evidence you’ll need to seek compensation for your injuries. Most lawyers offer free consultations. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact a New York personal injury lawyer near you to learn more about your legal rights after an accident.