The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Car Crash Evidence and Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers
June 12, 2020
To obtain compensation for their injuries, victims must establish key facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Imagine there are two stacks of typing paper side by side. Both stacks have the same number of sheets. If someone moves one sheet from the right to the left, the stack on the left is bigger than the one on the right. That’s what a preponderance of the evidence means.
Generally, the key facts involve negligence. That negligence could be a lack of ordinary care or a violation of a safety statute. In defective product car crash cases, like a tire blow-out or defective Takata airbag, the victim/plaintiff must only prove cause by a preponderance of the proof.
So, a good Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must be more than a good litigator. An attorney must also be a good investigator. Since the evidence collection process is so critical, many lawyers partner with accident reconstructionists, private investigators, or other such professionals during this phase of a car crash claim.
Traditional Evidence Sources
Frequently, Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers use a combination of medical bills, the police accident report, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony to build successful damage claims.
Medical bills are critical because, in many injury cases, medical expenses are the largest damage category. IN a serious injury claim, the medical bills often exceed $100,000. Additionally, these records often contain treatment notes which indicate things like the victim’s pain level. These notations are relevant to the noneconomic damages in the case.
All these physician records are usually admissible in a Wright County civil court. That’s assuming a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney lays the proper foundation.
A police accident report usually contains an accident narrative. The officer pieces together the physical evidence to create a detailed picture of the accident. Generally, police accident reports carry a great deal of weight with jurors.
Moreover, the police accident report usually includes a list of witnesses. That list serves as a starting point for additional evidence-gathering, if it is necessary.
Most jurors want to hear from the victim in a personal injury case, even though the victim’s testimony is technically not necessary in most cases. It’s important for a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney to properly prepare the victim to be a witness. The testimony must not sound rehearsed. But, the victim must know what to say, and what not to say, during cross-examination.
Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Nontraditional Evidence
These sources of evidence are normally reliable, but that’s not always true. The police accident report is a good example. In terms of evidence collection, even the most experienced emergency responder is not an accident reconstructionist. Additionally, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, the police report narrative might only contain one side of the story.
Electronic evidence, such as the Event Data Recorder, often fills in the gap. Much like a black box flight data recorder inside a commercial airplane, a vehicle’s EDR measures and records things like:
Brake application, and
Engine acceleration or deceleration.
Tech-savvy Wright County jurors often respond very well to electronic evidence. And, from a legal standpoint, it is more reliable than eyewitness testimony or other kinds of proof. Assuming the gadget was working properly, a computer is never biased or inaccurate.
However, this critical evidence might not be available, unless a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney is very proactive. Minnesota has strict vehicle information privacy laws, and a lawyer must know how to overcome them. Moreover, unless a lawyer sends a spoliation letter, the insurance company might “accidentally” destroy the EDR.
Other kinds of electronic evidence, such as a commercial vehicle’s Electronic Logging Device, might be important as well. ELDs are often critical in drowsy driving claims. These gadgets track HOS (Hours of Service) compliance. If a tortfeasor (negligent driver) did not follow rules regarding driving caps and mandatory rest periods, the tortfeasor might be legally responsible for a crash as a matter of law.
Damages in a car crash claim normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Normally, there is a direct connection between the strength of the evidence in a case and the amount of damages the jury awards.