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Types of Evidence in a Personal Injury Claim

Types of Evidence in a Personal Injury Claim

March 22, 2022 | Personal Injury

Proof is critical in injury claims for two basic reasons. First, victims must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

Second, there is usually a direct link between the amount of evidence victims present and the amount of damages jurors award.

Generally, the evidence in a negligence claim is circumstantial.

In other words, the proof could be interpreted several different ways. Frequently, circumstantial evidence is like random pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The puzzle pieces mean nothing until someone, such as a skilled New York personal injury attorney, puts the pieces together, so the jury sees a compelling picture.

The Big Three

There are three fundamental types of evidence in a personal injury claim.

Police Accident Reports

These records are especially important in vehicle collision claims. Car crashes kill or seriously injure millions of people every year. The number of vehicle collisions has increased dramatically since 2019.

Occasionally, police accident reports are comprehensive and reliable. That’s especially true if a large emergency responder division, like the NYPD, handles the report, or if multiple agencies cooperate in the investigation.

Typically, accident reconstruction professionals prepare the final reports in these wrecks.

However, that’s normally not the case. Frequently, a solitary emergency responder from a relatively small and underfunded agency handles the report.

These individuals do the best they can with the training and experience they have. However, this training and experience may be  too limited to produce a comprehensive report.

Additionally, the police report is often incomplete, even if an accident reconstruction professional prepares it.

Frequently, the victim is unable to give a statement. Therefore, the report, especially the all-important narrative portion, only reflects one side of the story.

Medical Records

Much like police accident reports, medical records are either incredibly useful or almost useless, at least for most purposes.

These records usually include medical charts and medical bills. Medical charts show the care the victim received or didn’t receive. Medical bills show the cost of these procedures.

That’s one of the major components of damages in a personal injury claim.

However, these records often don’t show the victim’s pain level at a given time. They also do not contain information about future medical expenses.

Eyewitness testimony, which is discussed below, often provides information about pain and suffering levels. Either a medical provider or a layperson, like a friend or family member, could provide this testimony.

Medical experts, another subject discussed below, often provide evidence about future medical needs.

Both these things are important. Injury victims are entitled to compensation for their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, unless a final settlement fully accounts for future medical costs, victims could be financially responsible for these bills.

Eyewitness Testimony

We mentioned eyewitness testimony regarding medical issues above.

Additionally, eyewitnesses can testify about the events of a fall, car crash, or other injury-causing event. Victims may also tell their own stories in their own words.

Eyewitness testimony is also biased. Our brains are not tape recorders.

We remember things selectively. So, it’s important not to over-rely on eyewitness testimony. In many ways, this kind of evidence is the weakest kind of evidence in a personal injury case.

Expert Testimony

This evidence is unnecessary in most personal injury claims, such as complete recovery and wrongful death claims. Most personal injury cases fall into one of these two categories.

However, expert testimony is vital in other cases.

We mentioned one kind of claim above. Only a well-qualified doctor can review a file and a treatment record and determine what future medical care, if any, a victim may need.

This testimony is also important in medical negligence and environmental poisoning or other mass tort claims.

Medical experts establish the standard of care in a birth injury or other medical negligence claims. Jurors can then determine, based on additional evidence, if the doctor breaches that standard of care. Experts in environmental poisoning and other such claims serve a dual purpose.

First, they establish cause, which is a link between the defective products or other event and the victim’s injury. Secondly, these experts doubt defense experts who unabashedly testify that some of the most dangerous products in the world are as safe as mother’s milk.

Compelling evidence is usually the key to maximum compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.

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