Proving a Personal Injury Claim in Chicago | Staver

How to Prove a Personal Injury Claim in Illinois

It’s not enough to believe someone else is at fault for your injuries. You have to prove it. The only way to win a personal injury case is to have enough evidence that an insurer is willing to settle, or a jury can award you compensation. It’s up to you to find the evidence that supports your personal injury claim. Then, you have to arrange and use it in such a way that persuades an insurer or jury that you’re right. Doing all of this is a tall order, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Illinois personal injury law and litigation. We recommend you work with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney who will gather evidence on your behalf, evaluate the strongest argument for your case, and fight hard for you to win compensation.

Reach out to Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. through our online form or at (312) 236-2900. We offer free initial consultations. There’s no fee for talking with us or hiring our firm. We work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t pay us unless we win your case.

The Plaintiff Has the Burden of Proof

When you file a personal injury lawsuit against another person or business, you become the plaintiff. Because you’re making the allegations, it’s your job to prove the defendant is liable. You have the burden of proof because even in a civil personal injury case, the law starts by assuming the defendant is innocent. You have to overcome the assumption that the defendant didn’t do anything wrong if you want to win compensation.

The Burden of Proof Can Shift

Under specific and rare circumstances, you can shift the burden of proof to the defendant. This can happen when the defendant violated a state statute or local ordinance that was meant to protect the public’s health and safety. Proving the violation in court is prima facie evidence of negligence. Prima facie evidence creates a rebuttable presumption that the defendant was negligent. It shifts the burden to the defendant to disprove the presumption. The defendant has to provide evidence that despite violating the statute or ordinance, their behavior was reasonable. But it’s important to note that the burden of proof for your entire case doesn’t shift to the defendant. The burden only shifts with regard to the presumption you created.

The Standard of Proof in Personal Injury Cases

Since you have the burden of proving the defendant was responsible for your injuries, you need to know how much proof to give the court. How much evidence you need is called the standard of proof. In a civil personal injury case, you have to show the defendant is liable by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used in criminal cases. By a preponderance of the evidence means it’s more likely than not that the defendant is responsible.

Using Evidence to Prove Your Case

Proving your personal injury claim requires evidence. Evidence is something that proves or supports a claim that something is true. What you can use to establish facts in court is controlled by the Illinois Rules of Evidence. You can’t use anything you want as evidence in a personal injury case.

In general, all relevant evidence is admissible, and anything that isn’t relevant isn’t admissible. Relevant evidence is anything that tends to make the existence of a fact that is important to your case more or less probable than without that evidence. But evidence that is technically relevant can be excluded from your case for several reasons, including but not limited to: if its misleading, confusing, would waste time, is redundant, creates an unfair prejudice against the defendant, is hearsay, or a statement made during negotiations.

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence

There are broad types of evidence, including direct and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence speaks for itself. The evidence proves that a specific fact is true or false. Common types of direct evidence are confessions, eyewitness accounts of accidents, photos, and video footage.

Circumstantial evidence implies something. It asks the jury to infer that something is true. You might think circumstantial evidence is weaker than direct evidence, but this isn’t necessarily true. Entire cases have been won based on circumstantial evidence. In personal injury cases, this is known as res ipsa loquitur, which means implied negligence.

For example, if you were hurt in a car crash because another motorist ran a red light, there might be direct and circumstantial evidence to support a claim against the other driver. Your testimony and other eyewitnesses’ testimony are direct evidence. If the crash was caught on a traffic camera, the footage is direct evidence. But what if no one else saw the accident and there’s no video? You might rely on circumstantial evidence, like photos that show the angle at which your vehicle was struck and where your car ended up.

Common Types of Evidence in Personal Injury Cases

In a personal injury case, we’ll look for:

  • Police or other accident reports
  • Photos of the aftermath of the accident
  • Video from traffic, weather, surveillance, and dashboard cameras
  • Eyewitness statements
  • A motorist’s driving record
  • Results of chemical testing for alcohol or drugs
  • Business records
  • Employee records
  • The party’s past involvement in similar accidents
  • Statutory or regulatory violation
  • Medical records
  • Expert testimony, including medical experts and accident reconstruction experts
  • Medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Objects, like damaged vehicles
  • Measurements from the accident site, such as tread marks on the pavement

Let Us Find Evidence for Your Chicago Personal Injury Claim

Proving the other party’s liability and your injuries in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit takes work. You need to investigate your case independently. Don’t rely on what the insurance company said they found. By working with an experienced personal injury attorney in Illinois, you have someone who knows how to dig into your accident. Then you need to review and evaluate the available evidence. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case? What’s the best way to present the evidence to the jury? Our team will build a strong, persuasive case in pursuit of full and fair compensation.

Call (312) 236-2900 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation. Talk with us about what you need to do to prove your personal injury claim and how we can help.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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