An injured individual can only hope to prove the details of their personal injury case with proper evidence. This evidence often includes documents, witness testimony, professional opinions, and anything that tends to establish a point in the case.
Be that as it may, the Colorado court system has complex rules regulating how parties collect and use evidence. As you work to gather evidence to prove your claims and disprove the other party’s defenses, you will likely need help. A lawyer with an intimate knowledge of these rules and experience using them can help with your case.
Gathering Evidence Before a Lawsuit
Before the proceedings of a lawsuit begin, your lawyer will investigate your claim and gather any information that may support your claim. Some of that evidence will come directly from you. This includes a description of your side of what happened that explains your injuries and how they have affected your life, as well as copies of your medical bills.
The rest of the evidence your lawyer gathers will come from third parties. For instance, you will sign a HIPAA release so your lawyer can get copies of your medical records from your doctor. If you were in a car accident, your legal team would also request a copy of the accident report from the police agency that investigated it.
The insurance adjuster will review any information you gather in resolving your claim, as well as that gathered by the insurance company and the other driver.
If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer will file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The process for gathering evidence in a lawsuit is called discovery. During this phase, your lawyer will request information from the at-fault driver. In turn, the at-fault driver’s lawyer will request information from you.
During discovery, the parties have wide latitude to gather the information that might be relevant to the case. The parties can request evidence they might not be able to use in court as long as they think it might lead to relevant evidence.
To be admissible in court, evidence must be relevant to a claim or defense. This means the information must tend to prove or disprove a fact associated with the parties’ assertions. If you request a jury trial, a judge determines relevance, but the jury will decide how to weigh the evidence provided.
Relevant evidence includes both circumstantial and direct evidence. The latter proves a fact, while the former gives rise to an inference of that fact. Lawyers generally do not distinguish between these kinds of evidence as any evidence that tends to support a claim or defense has some value. However, a jury might attribute less weight to circumstantial evidence.
You can use tangible objects to prove your case. For instance, in a product liability case, you might show the jury the broken product. In car crash litigation, you might bring your rear bumper to court to prove the extent of the damage done.
Courts do not admit all documents into evidence. You must prove several characteristics of a document to satisfy the admissibility rules.
You may be able to use the following documents as evidence:
- Audio recordings
You should also remember that documents may constitute hearsay. As a result, a judge may block the jury from seeing certain documents.
Witnesses can testify about their direct experiences, such as what they saw or heard and their actions. It is important to obtain witness statements and contact information immediately following a personal injury.
Knowledgeable witnesses can testify about opinions. In a typical case, they will review the factual evidence and analyze what happened, forming an opinion and testify about it.
For example, someone with an extensive knowledge of crashes can review the damage in a motorcycle accident and reconstruct how the accident happened. They can then testify about their findings in court once the lawyer qualifies them to give opinion testimony based on their education, training, or experience.
Certain evidence is not admissible in court, even if it is otherwise relevant.
Some types of evidence that a judge may exclude are as follows:
- Privileged information, such as communications between spouses
- Hearsay, namely testimony about out-of-court statements
- Character evidence, such as proof that a particular witness tends to lie
- Prejudicial evidence, like testimony that a driver was arrested for DUI ten years ago
When evidence gets excluded, your lawyer must find another way to present the facts to the jury or move on with issues more central to your case.
A Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Uses Evidence to Prove Your Case
Lawyers learn the rules of evidence in law school. The bar examination also tests their knowledge of the evidence rules. However, only years of courtroom experience can give a lawyer the skills to use them effectively in a case. Call Zaner Harden Law at (720) 613-9706 or contact us online to learn how the evidence can prove your claim and pave the way to personal injury compensation.