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The Types of Evidence Used to Prove Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Senior woman patient speaks with doctor about injury

Personal injury claims can be complex, and gathering and presenting evidence is crucial to support both economic and non-economic damages. Evidence is necessary to prove the extent of injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages that resulted from an accident or injury.

There are different types of evidence that may be used in personal injury claims, such as medical records, witness testimony, and expert opinions. Each type of evidence serves a specific purpose and can be essential to building a strong case.

Different Types of Damages

In a personal injury case, the person who has been injured can claim two types of compensatory damages – economic and non-economic damages. A person can choose to pursue both of these types of damages or just one of them.

Economic Damages

Economic damages, also known in California as special damages, are items that are objectively verifiable. They are more tangible and more concrete than non-economic damages. This means they can be proven via documents like bills or earnings statements or testimony from witnesses like the plaintiff or their doctor or their employer.

Items of economic damages a plaintiff may claim in a personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Past medical care received;
  • Future medical care a doctor recommends;
  • Past lost earnings;
  • Future lost earnings;
  • Loss of ability to provide household services;
  • Property damage.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, also known in California as general damages, are items that are subjective. There are no bills or receipts a plaintiff can provide the trier-of-fact to prove them. Items of non-economic damage that a plaintiff in a personal injury case may claim include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress.

These can include things such as physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, and humiliation.

If the injured person is married, their spouse may have a claim for a type of non-economic damage called loss of consortium. This includes the loss of their spouse’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, and can include the loss of enjoyment of sexual relations or the ability to have children.

Standards for Proving Damages

As the injured party bringing the lawsuit, a plaintiff is required to meet their burden of proof to prove each item of economic or non-economic they claim to have sustained as a result of the incident giving rise to their injuries. For instance, for past medical expenses, a plaintiff must prove the reasonable cost of reasonably necessary medical care that he or she has received. For future lost earnings, a plaintiff must prove the amount of income, earnings, salary, or wages he or she will be reasonably certain to lose in the future. It’s important to understand what the standard is that will be required to prove damages at trial.

Different Types of Evidence

Medical Records

Medical records are one of the most critical pieces of evidence in personal injury claims. They provide a detailed account of the injuries sustained, the treatment received, and the costs associated with that treatment. Medical records may include hospital records, doctor's notes, test results, imaging studies and reports, and bills for medical care. It is essential to obtain all medical records related to the injury, including any physical therapy, rehabilitation, or ongoing treatment required.

Witness Testimony

Witness testimony can also be valuable evidence for damages in a personal injury claim. It can be critical in establishing non-economic damages – in painting a picture for the trier of fact of what the injured party was like pre-accident and what they are like after their injuries. They can provide important testimony about the injured person’s pain and limitations.

Witness testimony can also be used to support other evidence, such as medical records. For example, a witness who saw someone sustain an injury in an accident can testify to the severity of the injury and how it affected the victim. Treating physicians can also be important witnesses who provide context about medical documentation.

Expert Opinions

Expert opinions can be particularly useful in complex personal injury cases. Experts in fields such as medicine, engineering, or accident reconstruction can provide their professional opinion on the cause and extent of injuries sustained in an accident.

Importance of Gathering Evidence

Gathering evidence is crucial in personal injury claims – it can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful case. Without evidence, it is challenging to prove the extent of damages suffered, which can result in a lower settlement offer or even a case dismissal.

Evidence is also essential when negotiating with insurance companies. Insurance adjusters will often look for any reason to deny a claim or reduce the settlement offer, and strong evidence can help counter their arguments. For example, if an adjuster argues that an injury was pre-existing, medical records can prove that the injury is related to the accident.

Furthermore, evidence can help establish liability, which is necessary to recover damages in a personal injury claim. Without evidence to support fault, it can be challenging to prove that another party is responsible for the victim's injuries.

Significance of Presenting Evidence Effectively

Presenting evidence effectively is just as important as gathering it. Evidence must be organized, documented, and presented clearly to have maximum impact in court or in negotiations with insurance companies. A skilled personal injury attorney from Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP can help present evidence effectively and make a compelling case for maximum compensation.

Personal injury attorneys use various methods to present evidence, including:

  • Demonstrative exhibits: This includes charts, diagrams, and other visual aids that can help explain complex information to a jury or judge.
  • Expert testimony: As mentioned earlier, expert opinions can be valuable evidence in personal injury cases. Experts can testify in court, providing their professional opinion on the cause and extent of injuries.
  • Witnesses: Witnesses can provide testimony in court or through deposition, which can help establish fault and the extent of damages suffered.

Being Prepared Is Critical

Gathering and presenting evidence is crucial to personal injury claims. Evidence helps establish the extent of damages suffered, establish liability, and negotiate effectively with insurance companies.

Medical records, witness testimony, and expert opinions are just some of the evidence that may be used in personal injury claims. To have the best chance of a successful outcome, it is essential to work with a skilled personal injury attorney from Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP who can help gather and present evidence effectively.

Call our Los Angeles attorneys at (866) 634-4525 or contact us online to get in touch with someone from our team about the details of your case right away. We will fight to recover your full and fair compensation.