What Is the Importance of Gathering and Preserving Evidence?
If you are expecting a personal injury lawsuit in the near future, evidence preservation should be a top priority. In any civil action, the plaintiff, or the party filing the lawsuit, has the burden of proving the truth of his or her claim. For example, if a person files a lawsuit against another person for a car accident, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant (the target of the lawsuit) caused the accident, or at least caused the plaintiff’s damages.
Gathering and preserving evidence is critical for any legal issue. In civil actions, evidence helps a plaintiff prove the extent of his or her losses to secure the most compensation possible. In criminal trials, evidence is what will eventually lead to a conviction or acquittal of the defendant. It’s important to know how to gather and preserve evidence for any type of legal matter.
Evidence in Personal Injury Claims
If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of another person or party, your first steps following the injury are very important. In some cases, you may be unable to do anything at first due to the severity of your injuries. If you require a medical air lift or ambulance from the scene of the injury, evidence collection may be a bit more difficult. However, after a car accident or other incident that may result in lesser injuries, collecting evidence should be a top priority.
One of the best opportunities for evidence collection is immediately after an injury. If possible, take photos of the scene of the accident, photos of your injuries up close, and any of property damage involved in the incident. While it’s not always possible to take photos immediately following an injury, do so if the opportunity presents itself be sure to take advantage.
Material evidence may also include documentation related to your medical care, the police report from the incident, or correspondence between the plaintiff and defendant that proves a relationship related to the lawsuit. One of the best resources for anyone concerned with evidence gathering or preservation is a qualified attorney. Your attorney should help you gather all of the necessary evidence to build your case.
Types of Evidence
There are many types of evidence that can play a part in a lawsuit:
- Physical evidence. This can include any physical item or tangible object related to the lawsuit that proves the plaintiff’s claims. For example, in a defective product lawsuit, the physical product that caused the injury will likely enter into evidence.
- Photos from the scene of an incident as well as photos of the plaintiff’s injuries and property damage are very impactful in the courtroom.
- This can include any type of recorded documentation related to your case. For example, if you suffered injuries in a car accident, the medical report from your doctor will contain an outline of the full extent of your injuries and recovery. In a contract lawsuit, emails or letters exchanged between the parties will likely come into play. Many civil actions involve documentation such as pay stubs, receipts, contracts, and various other possibilities.
- Many types of witnesses may be involved in a civil action. Eyewitnesses are individuals who saw the incident in question transpire firsthand. Other witnesses may include expert witnesses who have a professional viewpoint on the matter and can help a jury understand the extent of a plaintiff’s damages. For example, expert witnesses are essential to medical malpractice claims and testify as to whether or not a defendant’s actions were medically acceptable in a given situation.
Preserving these types of evidence is crucial to success in a lawsuit, especially when it comes to witnesses. If you intend to enter eyewitness testimony as evidence in your case, it’s important to collect recordings or signed statements from those witnesses as soon as possible after the incident. Human memory fades very quickly, so the sooner you collect this evidence the better it will serve your case.
Your attorney is a fantastic resource for advice about gathering and preserving evidence. If you are unsure about whether or not a particular factor is relevant to your lawsuit, ask. Your attorney can not only advise you about which evidence is worthwhile, but also help you discover other places to look and secure evidence from public resources, such as traffic cameras and CCTV footage. Ultimately, the strength of any legal claim lies in its evidence, so take care in collecting and preserving the evidence for any legal issue.
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