Date:August 17, 2016
Evidence is what is presented to a court to help determine the truth. It is important because the jury or judge hearing your New Hampshire injury case will review only evidence properly submitted to the court in deciding whether to award you a monetary verdict. Your NH injury attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, and the insurance company that insures the defendant, will view the evidence before a lawsuit is filed, and the defendant’s insurance company will decide whether to settle your claim or force you and your attorney to file a lawsuit.
The most common form of evidence in a New Hampshire injury case is through witness testimony. In most personal injury cases, there will be witnesses who were present at the time you were injured.
There are different types of witnesses. Eyewitnesses or people close to you may be considered “lay or fact witnesses.” A lay or fact witness is an ordinary person testifying from their own knowledge, typically about things they have experienced personally.
Expert witnesses are used to establish complex conclusions or introduce complicated evidence that requires a professional to understand and interpret. For example, one of the most common expert witnesses in a New Hampshire injury case is the primary physician who treated a plaintiff’s injuries. Your physician may need to testify about a number of matters regarding your medical diagnosis, your body’s response to treatment and medication, and even what future medical treatment you might need someday.
Your physician can testify in a number of ways. In some jurisdictions, a certified copy of your medical records could be used, or your attorney may have your physician testify in a deposition and play the video back at trial, or your physician may be required to testify live at trial. An experienced trial attorney will select the method of testimony for each witness that best serves your interests.
Some physicians are unwilling to testify at trial. This is not a reflection on the plaintiff of the merits of the plaintiffs case. Rather, it may be as simple as the physician working for a facility that will not allow the physician to testify, or the physician’s work load may not allow him/her to take the time needed to come testify at trial or deposition.
An experienced NH injury attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman will try to find witnesses who may have witnessed your injury, or who may have knowledge about how your injuries have impacted your New Hampshire injury case. An experienced attorney will carefully select witnesses to present a strong statement of your claim. Having more witnesses is not always as beneficial as one or two quality witnesses. Your NH injury attorney at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman will be able to explain how each lay and expert witness will help strengthen your case, eliminate weaknesses, or combat potential arguments made by the defendant’s attorney.
In addition to witnesses, your personal injury claim is proved through documentary evidence. This may include things like your medical bills, medical records, pay stubs, corporate incident reports, police reports, traffic citations, photographs, diagrams, notes taken by you or the defendant regarding what happened, etc. Anything in paper, video, or electronic form can be considered documentary evidence.
However, just because a piece of paper, video, or photograph exists does not mean your attorney will be allowed to enter it into evidence at trial. New Hampshire and the United States federal courts have developed rules of evidence which your attorney must follow in order to submit evidence in court. For example, depending on whether you are in a New Hampshire or federal court, the rules for what is admissible evidence are different. An experienced trial attorney will know how to identify and find the correct documents to use and submit as evidence before and at trial in your New Hampshire injury case.
The best way to gather evidence before hiring an attorney is to document everything. That means calling the police to generate an accident report in an automobile collision, making a complaint at a business to generate an incident report if you were injured on commercial property, and taking notes when you meet with your physicians, etc.
You may also obtain copies of your medical records prior to hiring an attorney, but keep in mind, the documents you collect may not be in the proper form to submit as evidence in court. An experienced attorney will be able to explain how the documents need to be obtained and in what manner in order to have the documents admitted at trial. For instance, providing a copy of your paycheck may not be enough to prove lost wages. Your attorney might ask your employer to fill out an affidavit stating your pay rate and how many hours or days you were absent from work due to your injuries, or might request your tax returns from the I.R.S. with your consent.
The attorneys of Manning & Zimmerman are experienced trial attorneys who routinely gather the necessary documents to settle or take to court a New Hampshire injury case. We are able to explain what types of documents are admissible and which are not and, in most cases, will be able to obtain these documents with your consent on your behalf, or provide the information you need to readily obtain them yourself.