When you file a personal injury lawsuit against another person, you become the plaintiff, and the person at-fault takes on the role of the defendant. As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you now carry the burden of proof. Therefore, you must prove that the other party was negligent.
In some cases, the burden of proof is not a burden. Instead, it is relatively easy to prove guilt. Other instances, however, are complicated and require not only an attorney but experts that establish negligence.
The Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof
To prove negligence and hold the defendant liable for his or her actions, you need evidence. The defendant does not have to prove anything. Instead, they argue against the evidence you present, but are not expected to prove their innocence.
The burden of proof for civil plaintiffs is not as stringent as it is on a criminal prosecutor. Instead of proving beyond a reasonable doubt like in a criminal case, you are proving by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, if enough evidence shows the other party’s fault, you have succeeded with proving your case.
Evidence to Gather for a Stronger Case
The more evidence you collect, the stronger your case is in court. Most cases settle out of court, and if you have an abundance of convincing evidence before trial, the defense may settle before your trial date as well.
Some evidence to gather so that you can strengthen your case includes:
- Photographs of the accident scene. If your injuries are not severe, try to get photos of the accident scene. Focus on the vehicles, damage to those vehicles, and any injuries present.
- Police reports from the incident. You are required to report your automobile accident in Georgia; therefore, obtain a copy of the police report. This police report might be hearsay, but it gives pertinent details to help your attorney gather further evidence.
- Eyewitness statements and information. It is imperative that you find all witnesses to the accident and request their contact information. That way you can obtain a statement from them later.
- Medical records. Injuries you have sustained in the accident will be documented in your medical records. Therefore, collect all medical records, and make sure they are accurate. If you have symptoms, pain, or other ailments associated with the accident, make sure your doctor notates them in your chart.
- Proof of missing hours and wages. Next, gather all evidence that you have missed work, including the use of sick leave or vacation hours, a letter from your employer about the hours you have missed, and pay stubs to prove the wages you lost.
- Injury journal. A powerful piece of evidence that victims often overlook is the injury journal. This journal should be written in daily or at least a few times per week. Discuss not only your physical injuries and pain but the mental and emotional injuries you have suffered. If you have treatments those days, discuss the progress and pain associated with them. Do not exaggerate. Be honest in your injury journal.
Contact an Injury Attorney
After an accident, the first step is to contact your insurance company. All insurance policies have specific clauses that require you to report accidents immediately. Failing to do so could mean that you lose insurance coverage – which will affect your case as well.
Once you have reported the accident, speak with an attorney. If your insurance company or the other parties requests an official statement, you can and should have an attorney present for these declarations. And please note that the law does not require you give a recorded statement.