Panama City Injury Lawyer Explains Direct Evidence In a Personal Injury Case
One of the things about the American system of justice that makes it fair for all is that both sides, plaintiff and defendant, have an equal opportunity to make their stories heard. This is true in the courts of Panama City, Florida, just as in any other city or court in America.
We make our personal injury clients’ stories heard by introducing evidence. Many people have been misled by decades of legal dramas about what evidence is and what it can prove. The next few posts hope to clear some of that up.
There are three basic kinds of evidence — direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, and expert evidence. They differ in how they get admitted to court, and what they tend to prove.
But there’s a basic threshold all evidence must pass to get in, and that’s a good place to start. Evidence is any fact that either proves or disproves the point in dispute. Imagine a basic car collision. The injured plaintiff says that the defendant ran a red light while the defendant says it was still yellow. In this example, the disputed point is whether the light was red or yellow. Unless the evidence either proves the light was red, or disproves it, it doesn’t come in.
The first way the parties prove or disprove the point is with direct evidence. As the name suggests, direct evidence is evidence that goes directly to the point in dispute. This is most often established through testimony in court.
In the example above, a witness comes into court and testifies that she saw the collision, and she could also see the traffic light, and in her recollection the defendant ran a red light. As you can see, this testimony goes right to the heart of the matter.
Of course, a single witness doesn’t make a slam-dunk case. Defense counsel will try to poke holes in the testimony through cross-examination — maybe they will, maybe they won’t — but the testimony, if believed, all by itself proves the point. Even direct evidence comes with a crucial caveat — it only matters if the jury believes it.
Memories are surprisingly fluid, and sometimes do not match reality. This is why it is crucial that every case also have other kinds of evidence. Those will be discussed in future posts.