If your case goes to trial, you want an attorney who is a storyteller. Some people tell a story by making a video or writing a novel or song. We tell our story through demand letters and correspondence to insurance companies. If we can’t settle, we file a lawsuit and write the story in the complaint and motions. We also tell the story in oral arguments, how we question witnesses, and what we say to the jury. Instead of using visual images or music to tell your story, we use evidence including demonstrative exhibits.
There are many kinds of evidence. Some evidence may be significant characters in your story. Other evidence is the supporting cast. Some evidence is more important than others, but they’re all needed to flesh out the story.
What Does Evidence Do?
The evidence establishes facts that build up your case or tear down the defendant’s story (they’ve got a story to tell, too). To be used, it must be admissible in court, and that depends on its authenticity (is it really what we say it is?) and materiality (does it support your case and/or make the defendant’s claims less credible?) The probative value of the evidence (it can prove or disprove allegations) must not be outweighed by its shock or prejudicial value.
Let’s say we find evidence during our investigation that the defendant hits his kids. If we claim he was asleep at the wheel when his car struck you, the fact that he beats his kids is irrelevant and would be very prejudicial (it may make the jury not like him). However, if we claim that he wasn’t paying attention to driving just before the accident because he was hitting one of his kids sitting in the passenger seat, evidence he hits his kids would be very relevant and outweigh the fact that it makes him unlikable.
What are the Types of Evidence?
There are different types of evidence.
- Real: This is physical evidence, material items, objects, and things a jury can physically hold and inspect. If we claim the other driver’s defective brakes caused your accident, we may take those brakes off the car and use them in court as evidence.
- Demonstrative: It demonstrates or illustrates a witness’ testimony. It can be charts, diagrams, maps, photos, videos, or graphs. A map may show where the accident occurred, and a video can show the accident site. It’s admissible if it fairly and accurately reflects the witness’s testimony and is more probative than prejudicial.
- Documentary: These are documents, or copies of documents, authenticated by the person producing them. In personal injury cases, these documents are often medical records, tax returns, and bills for medical treatments.
- Testimonial: This covers someone speaking and answering questions under oath at a deposition or during a trial about something relevant to your case. This can be about disputed facts in your case or an expert opinion about what caused your accident or the seriousness of your injuries.
Whether the evidence is admissible and how it is used at a trial can be very complex. Depending on the situation, whether evidence can be introduced at your trial may be the difference between a jury verdict in your favor or your case’s dismissal.
Get the Help You Need From a Lawyer You Can Trust
Personal injury attorney Jeffrey R. Davis has helped thousands of clients get the compensation they deserve for injuries caused by others. Call us at (305) 577-3777 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.