When you file a personal injury claim of any kind, the courts rely on evidence to determine whether you are right or not. Evidence is a broad term that can include almost any kind of information or object that might be relevant to the facts of the case. Testimony from a witness at a car accident scene counts as evidence; so do shards of metal that were surgically removed in a defective medical device case.
What is and is not allowed as evidence?
Every state in the U.S. has its own rules for evidence. There are also federal rules. While these can vary significantly on minor details, in the broad strokes most evidence rules are similar.
The most important factor in determining whether something counts as evidence is relevance. Information that isn’t relevant to a case should be suppressed by a judge—that is, tossed out of the case. Evidence can be directly relevant, like a diagnosis of whiplash in a neck injury case, or it can be only indirectly relevant, like a neighbor’s testimony that you have not been wearing your neck brace.
One type of evidence that is almost never allowed is opinion. This is a difficult point in many cases, because witnesses can provide valuable testimony but may also stray into stating unfounded opinions. For example, if a witness says they saw you holding your neck and moaning after the car accident, that’s an observation, not an opinion. But if they say you seem like the kind of person who would lie, that’s pure opinion, and it shouldn’t be admitted.
What types of evidence are most common?
While almost anything can be admitted as evidence depending on the case, here are some of the types of evidence that are most common in civil lawsuits:
- Physical evidence. Objects, such as a medical device that was removed from you, often provide vital clues to what happened and serve as evidence in trials.
- Demonstrative evidence. Demonstrative evidence often comes in the form of photos, video or audio recordings. It directly demonstrates what happened, such as a video of a car accident or photographs of bite marks in a dog bite case.
- Documentary and digital evidence. Any documents relevant to a case, such as a police report, can be admitted as evidence whether in physical or digital form.
- Witness testimony. Witnesses who saw the accident may be asked or compelled to testify and give their account of what happened.
- Expert testimony. Expert witnesses are common in personal injury trials and can help provide the jury with the scientific or medical knowledge they need to understand the case.
The exact evidence that will be most relevant to your case depends on the specifics of your claim. A good lawyer will help you assemble the strongest possible evidence before your trial, and possibly win you a settlement without even going to court.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.