Every plaintiff in every personal injury case in Florida needs evidence of the accident and injury. Sometimes it is clear that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused particular injuries. In those instances, an insurance adjuster may require only cursory evidence to offer to settle a personal injury claim, and that evidence could be readily available. However, that is not always the case.
Some personal injury lawsuits are highly contentious and fiercely contested by the defendant; this can be particularly true in slip and fall accidents where it is more difficult for a plaintiff to prove the defendant’s liability. Direct and circumstantial evidence becomes essential, and could be the difference in determining the amount of recovery, or if there is any recovery at all. As evidence is critical, plaintiffs need to know what evidence is required and how to collect it after a slip and fall accident in Florida.
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Types of Evidence
There are two broad categories of evidence, direct evidence of liability and circumstantial evidence. In a slip and fall claim, the plaintiff is likely to collect both types of evidence, but direct evidence builds a stronger case. Direct evidence supports a claim that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused personal injuries without any additional inferences needed. Often Florida personal injury lawyers say direct evidence speaks for itself in proving an aspect of the personal injury claim.
Examples of direct evidence include photographs where the slip and fall took place, witness statements about the accident, medical reports on the resulting injuries, and even the plaintiff’s statement of events. If the slip and fall occurred in a store or similar venue, video footage, and—if authorities were involved after the fall—police reports are also examples of direct evidence.
Circumstantial evidence requires the judge or jury to make an intervening inference between the evidence and a certain conclusion. For instance, the large size of spilled liquid implies that a property owner should have been more likely to notice it, or rotten wood indicates that a tree branch had been obstructing the sidewalk for a long time. These can be important points to prove in a Florida slip and call claim, but direct evidence that a property owner had time to notice and ignore a spill—or that the city had ample time to remove a tree branch—is preferable.
Collecting All Evidence
Regardless what type of evidence you need to collect, you must do so soon after a slip and fall. Waiting before photographing the location of the accident, requesting video footage, writing down a personal recollection, or gathering witness statements is a huge mistake. It allows time for evidence to be forgotten, misplaced, damaged, or destroyed. Instead, a plaintiff or personal injury attorney needs to act quickly to gather as much evidence as possible.
A plaintiff also needs to prevent the defendant from damaging or destroying any evidence within that party’s possession. It can be difficult to obtain video footage, employee statements, access to premises, or other pieces of evidence, direct and circumstantial, of a slip and fall from the defendant. Malicious defendants may even destroy necessary evidence. To ensure this does not happen, the plaintiff or lawyer must quickly write a spoliation letter to the defendant.
This letter gives notice that the plaintiff is aware of evidence and there will be consequences if such evidence is destroyed. Providing a spoliation letter and subsequent proof that the evidence was destroyed—on purpose or by accident—by the defendant can be a powerful measure if a case proceeds to court.
Lawyer’s Role in Collecting Evidence
Personal injury lawyers understand the significance and importance of compiling evidence of a slip and fall. Moreover, a personal injury lawyer in Florida will be familiar with what evidence leads to a strong case and recognize the value of direct evidence. Involving a personal injury lawyer early and substantively in the collection of evidence can be extremely valuable later in a lawsuit.
Our Miami personal injury law firm have handled the collecting and compiling of evidence in a wide range of personal injury lawsuits, including numerous slip and fall cases. Our Miami personal injury law firm has handled hundreds of slip and fall claims in Florida. Contact our attorneys today to seek further advice on evidence collection, call our office at (305)441-0440, or toll-free at 1-866-597-4529 or send us an email at [email protected].