What Evidence Do You Need to Prove a Car Accident Injury?
Evidence is one vital aspect of proving a car accident injury case. However, some specific rules and laws apply to the admissibility and discoverability of evidence. While these rules can protect you, you can also inadvertently harm your claim or lawsuit by not understanding their applicability.
Always seek legal advice from a New Mexico car accident injury attorney first to protect your rights and explore your options. A free consultation is all that you need to establish the direction in which to take your case as well as determine if legal representation is right for you.
Background: Your Evidence Meet Specific Criteria
In a past blog post, I addressed a common client question, “Do I Have Grounds to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?” It describes the criteria of an actionable personal injury lawsuit. Since a car accident injury falls under the branch of personal injury, proving your case begins here.
As a refresher, the evidence you need to prove a car accident injury must support the four (4) elements:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Concerning evidence, I obtain, examine, and preserve evidence when clients hire me to represent them during an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit. I may also work with experts to offer an opinion regarding its strength or to develop a theory.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, there are state, and federal rules that apply to evidence, which means that getting this aspect of your case right is critical to its outcome. Your New Mexico car accident injury attorney will avoid these mistakes altogether.
Burden of Proof
Rarely do car accident injury claims become lawsuits. Insurance companies understand this, which means that you hold the burden of proof even when negotiating an insurance claim. As such, you should prepare to refute liability denials and back your case theory with strong, admissible evidence.
Duty of Care Evidence
For you to have an actionable case, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is more straightforward to establish. As a licensed driver in the State of New Mexico, every driver owes one another a duty of care to operate a vehicle safely.
Evidence to prove a duty of care may include:
- Copies of drivers’ licenses
- Insurance identification cards
- Accident reports
- Witness statements
- Video recordings
Once your New Mexico car accident injury attorney establishes that the other driver owed you a duty of care, the next element to prove with evidence is that a breach in the care of duty existed.
Breach of Duty Evidence
A breach of one’s duty of care is what establishes that negligence occurred. Examples of a breach in duty may include careless driving, distracted driving, drunk driving, malfunctioning vehicles, and more. Depending upon the facts of your case, this aspect may be more challenging to prove and may become a source of contention with the insurance company.
Proving a breach of the duty of care may require the following types of evidence production:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Police reports
- Expert testimony
- Vehicle maintenance reports
- Video recordings
- Accident investigations
The types of evidence that I use for this element mainly depending upon the type of accident itself. Keep in mind that every case is different. Sometimes, it is the slightest of details that can completely change what is required for your injury claim to be successful.
Obtaining equitable compensation for an injury is the entire point of an insurance claim dispute or lawsuit. Without an injury, you do not have a car accident injury case. If you do have injuries, then they are more straightforward to prove since medical records and other supporting documentation exist to demonstrate that they occurred.
Injury evidence required in your case may include:
- Medical records and notes
- Physical therapy records
- X-rays and clinical lab results
- Evidence of mitigating further damage
- Insurance claim forms
- Ambulance records
- Emergency room records
It is imperative that you follow through on your doctor’s advice and care. You do not want the insurance company to assert that you inflicted the injury upon yourself or that it was pre-existing. These diversionary tactics are easier to refute when you are doing everything you can to recover along with a backing of evidence.
Damages is a legal term that refers to the losses you sustained as a result of an accident caused by another’s negligence. There are two (2) types of damages that you generally prove after a car accident injury: economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages Evidence
Economic damages are your measurable out-of-pocket and future costs, including medical care, lost work wages, lost future earnings, and more. These types of damages leave a verifiable “paper trail” that proves you incurred them.
Economic damages evidence may include:
- Medical bills, invoices, and receipts
- Paycheck stubs
- Doctor’s opinions
- Damages expert opinion
- Insurance information
Make sure you keep copies of these items as they become available. You may want to refer to them later on in your case. My firm maintains a case file containing all available evidence throughout the entire claims or litigation process.
Non-Economic Damages Evidence
Non-economic damages are more challenging to prove since they are not measurable. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost enjoyment of life are just a few of the possible non-economic damages on the table.
Typically, clients will keep a journal of their day-to-day experience regarding their injuries and overall emotional outlook. Your personal journal is admissible as evidence and may be called upon to demonstrate the level of harm you experienced.
Evidence Evolves Over the Course of Your Claim
If your New Mexico car accident attorney believes that your case is best-suited for civil court, then he or she will obtain testimony from witnesses and lawsuit parties as one way to gather additional evidence for your situation.
We use depositions to learn more about the defendant’s actions, conduct, and history. It is also a way to capture testimony that you can use in case he or she attempts to change their version of the facts later down the road.
Get Free Legal Advice From a New Mexico Car Accident Attorney
If someone else injured you in a car accident, obtaining the right evidence is just one way in which a New Mexico car accident attorney can help you. He or she will also help you avoid making critical mistakes that can derail your entire claim.