Statistics from the Law Society show that over three million people are injured in accidents each year, either at home, on the roads, at work or outdoors. In many cases, the accident was the fault of someone else giving rise to a personal injury compensation claim.
Evidence is the essence of every personal injury claim. You must be able to prove your claim. If your case does go to court, you will need to use evidence to prove every single one of the facts of your case. To successfully claim for compensation, your evidence must prove:
- there was a duty owed
- the duty was breached
- the breach caused the injury
- your loss arising because of the injury
The more evidence you have, the better your chances are of being able to successfully claim. There are two types of evidence:
Direct evidence proves the facts of the case, such as the occurrence of a particular event, for example a medical report proves you have suffered a broken leg. It is the most powerful type of evidence as it can automatically resolve the issue in question.
Circumstances evidence does not prove a fact but requires the court to draw conclusions from the evidence presented, such as photographs showing damage to a car, where the extent of the damage is clear but how it was caused is not. Circumstantial evidence often forms a large part of the evidence presented in personal injury cases.
It is critical to begin gathering evidence as soon as possible after an accident. Evidence can make or break a case. The earlier you start preparing evidence the better as memories are fresh and recollection of the events clear. In most circumstances, a court will give greater weight to a witness statement prepared at the time of the accident rather than three months later.
If you have been involved in an accident, your health and wellbeing is the primary concern and medical advice should always be sought. If you can, collect evidence from the scene of the accident; this could be invaluable to your case. Such evidence may include:
- contact details of witnesses to the accident;
- photographs of a trip hazard;
- attending police officer’s details at a road traffic accident;
- incident and reference numbers; and
- insurance details.
Different categories of evidence
Common forms of evidence used in a personal injury case include:
Medical records play a major part in personal injury claims. They demonstrate the injuries sustained, pain experienced, treatment required and prognosis for recovery. Medical records are also used to defend cases particularly where the victim has an extensive medical history and pre-existing medical conditions are being demonstrated.
An individual who testifies in a case but does not have any particular expertise. The witness statement will contain personal knowledge of the witness relating to what they saw or heard and even what they smelt, touched or tasted. Usually, a witness saw the accident occur or the dangerous circumstances leading to the accident.
expert witness statements
An expert witness has specialist knowledge and experience relating to a particular point in the case, such as scientific evidence. An expert witness usually offers an opinion on a set of facts and will be qualified in that area.
In the case of a road traffic accident, a police report may be invaluable. The report will include factual evidence including driving conditions, and circumstantial evidence such as whether the driver was in the police’s opinion driving with due care and attention. In an accident at work this will include the accident report book, risk assessment records, contract of employment and training guides.
• photographic evidence
In many cases photographs are circumstantial as they do not give a direct account of an accident but may accurately show the damage to a car for example. In personal injury cases, seeing is often believing.
The standard of proof
To claim successfully for personal injury compensation, you need to prove your case on “the balance of probabilities”. You need to show that what you say is more likely than not to be the case.
Working with your solicitor
Your solicitor can only build your case on the facts and evidence presented. Full and complete instructions, including as much evidential material as possible is critical for your solicitor to be able to accurately advise on your case.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident that was not your fault and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.