Direct Evidence is Not Always Needed to Prove Personal Injury CasesJune 27, 2016 | Category: Personal Injury
When injury victims pursue compensation from parties whose wrongful acts or negligence cause their injuries, the burden of proof falls solely on them. In a perfect world, reliable witnesses or other types of evidence would always be available to prove injury cases through direct evidence.
In the real world, however, a Los Angeles accident lawyer from our firm must often rely on indirect evidence (commonly called circumstantial evidence). When used properly, this type of evidence provides the compelling proof needed to support a case.
Indirect Evidence May or May Not be Permitted in CA Courts
When a witness testifies that he or she saw the events that led to an accident and the accident itself, this type of evidence is usually an example of direct evidence that the courts readily accept.
According to jury instructions that explain direct and indirect evidence in personal injury cases, indirect evidence is compelling when it essentially leads to facts that permit judges or juries to conclude the truth.
The instructions explain three criteria that make evidence acceptable — or not acceptable — in a trial:
- Relevant evidence is acceptable for use in CA courts. One example might be when no witnesses actually observed an injury victim slip and fall in a store; however, that victim was found lying on the floor next to a pool of spilled oil. The courts might see the oil as relevant to the victim's case.
- Persuasive evidence can be acceptable when it has a solid foundation. For example, no direct proof might exist to indicate that a common screw swallowed by an infant came from a specific crib. However, if the plaintiff can prove that the screws are commonly loose in the same model of crib, it may be reasonable to assume that the child's injury came from a loose screw in his or her own crib.
- Inference-based evidence is not acceptable in court. For example, when one person witnesses a cell phone in the hands of an alleged distracted driver immediately after an accident, it is possible to infer that the person was distracted by the phone and caused the accident. Unless phone records are available, or if passengers in the car witnessed the use of the phone at the time of the accident, however, the witness testimony alone does not prove any aspect of the case.
Early Legal Intervention Can Make a Difference in Injury Cases
Of course, the majority of personal injury cases are settled through insurance claims or through out-of-court negotiations. Still, a lack of compelling evidence can lead to reduced compensation or outright rejection of a valid claim.
Early contact with The Rudman Law Firm can help ensure that accident victims consider all types of evidence to help support their cases. Call us at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office at (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969 for the help needed to develop an effective case.