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Proving Fault in a Personal Injury Case

How do you prove that someone is at fault in an injury case?  The legal term for proof is “evidence.”  Evidence at a personal injury trial consists of the live testimony of witnesses and the numbered exhibits (such as photographs and documents) that are admitted.  There is an entire class in law school devoted to the topic of evidence. Most states have “Rules of Evidence” that govern what you can and cannot admit as evidence at trial. So, proving fault in a personal injury case is not as simple as it might seem.  As an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer Memphis, TN turns to in serious injury cases, we know the evidence rules and we know how to find and use the different types of evidence in your case.

Direct Evidence

“Direct evidence” is direct proof of a fact, such as the testimony of a witness about what she personally observed.  Example: Witness testifies that she saw it raining outside. 

Circumstantial Evidence

“Circumstantial evidence” is indirect evidence that gives you clues about what happened.  It is proof of a fact, or several facts, that causes you to conclude that another fact exists. Example:  If a witness testifies that she saw someone enter a room wearing a wet raincoat and carrying a wet umbrella, this is circumstantial evidence from which you could conclude that it was raining outside. 

What kind of evidence is best?

Each case is different, but we have found that, in general, eyewitness testimony and photographs are the most effective pieces of evidence in most cases.  For example, if you are injured in a motorcycle wreck or any other type of accident, the best way we can prove the fault of the person who injured you is if we can find an independent eyewitness who observed it that way.  If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, the best way to prove a dangerous condition is with a photograph or video that shows the dangerous condition.  You’ve heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” 

What kind of evidence is not allowed?

Many types of evidence are not allowed, and this post couldn’t possibly discuss them all, but a common offender is “hearsay.” You cannot use hearsay evidence to proof fault in a personal injury case.  For example, you can’t testify that someone told you that the other driver ran the red light or was speeding.  You can’t testify that a former store employee told you that the manager knew of an unsafe condition and that many people had complained about it before your injury. 

How can I help prove fault in my personal injury case? 

Take the time to gather evidence. Get witness names and contact information at the scene of the accident. Don’t be shy. Your case could depend on it.  Take pictures of the scene of the accident and your injuries. Write down details. The more information you can give to your lawyer about how the accident happened, the easier it will be for the insurance adjuster or defense attorney on the other side of your case to “accept liability” and make you a reasonable settlement offer. 

If you need help with your motorcycle wreck case, or another kind of personal injury case, contact the experienced motorcycle accident lawyer Memphis, TN turns to when injuries are serious.


WBThanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC  who have significant experience fighting for motorcycle accident victims in Tennessee.

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Steve Harrelson
Steve Harrelson
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