What Is Circumstantial Evidence in an Auto Accident Lawsuit?

circumstantial evidence in an auto accident

When there’s a car accident, it’s essential to provide evidence that points to the defendant violating their duty of care. Your Atlanta auto accident lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation for damages once you have ample evidence to support your claims. There are many ways you can prove fault; it could be through showing the driver was distracted, drunk, or negligent in other ways.

Establishing the defendant’s negligence requires presenting direct or circumstantial evidence supporting your claim. However, not many people understand the difference between the two types of evidence and how circumstantial evidence can be useful in a lawsuit. In this article, we’ll walk you through what circumstantial evidence is in an auto accident lawsuit and how it can apply to your case.

What Is Circumstantial Evidence?

Circumstantial evidence serves as proof of a fact or set of facts that could infer what happened. It isn’t the opposite of direct evidence, as most people think. However, it only implies what happened rather than proving the fact.

The use of circumstantial evidence in an auto accident lawsuit is based on a legal principle known as res ipsa loquitor. This is translated as ‘the thing speaks for itself.’

When a claimant invokes this principle, they can argue that the harm suffered wouldn’t have occurred if the respondent did not act negligently or recklessly. Therefore, circumstantial evidence is inferential proof because it draws inferences from the circumstances in a case. With these inferences, your Atlanta auto accident lawyer can draw a conclusion.

Rather than glaring proof, circumstantial evidence connects the dots and suggests the fact. Because it can help to prove some points, the court usually allows it. Since the standard of proof in most civil cases is based on the balance of probabilities, it’s possible to win an auto accident case with circumstantial evidence.

However, the evidence must be compelling and in line with the jury’s precise inference. This is important because the jury can conclude differently from the circumstance evidence.

Example of Circumstantial Evidence

In an auto accident, there are series of circumstantial evidence that your Atlanta auto accident attorney can use to prove the liability of the negligent party. This circumstantial evidence could help you establish your case and get the compensation you deserve.

Below are some examples of circumstantial evidence.

  • GPS information placing the driver’s car at the accident scene
  • License plate number
  • Crash site photograph
  • Diagrams displaying the accident scene
  • Photos of damage to your car and of cars at the accident scene
  • Skidmark analysis

When there’s no direct proof, your Atlanta auto accident lawyer can use any of this circumstantial evidence to connect the dots. It isn’t apparent but suggestive because it hints at the presence of something. However, it helps you prove a point which is why the court allows it.

a driver taking car accident photos

Difference Between Direct Evidence and Circumstantial Evidence

Direct evidence stands on its own. It points directly to the fault of the liable party. An example of direct evidence is a video of a driver running a red light and driving into another car. This type of evidence is indisputable because people can see, with their eyes, exactly what happened.

In contrast, circumstantial evidence requires the court to make certain assumptions based on the evidence to determine the driver’s fault. An example of circumstantial evidence is a photo of the claimant’s damaged vehicle at the crash scene. Although this type of evidence shows the court the car was at the crash scene, the jury has to assume the damage occurred in the accident.

It’s easy to counter circumstantial evidence, unlike direct evidence. For example, the at-fault party can claim the damage occurred in a previous crash and not at the time of the collision.

However, direct evidence clearly shows how the vehicle damage occurred and who is telling the truth. There’s no need for a factfinder or any other party to make an inference; it is glaring and direct proof. Also, unlike circumstantial evidence, direct evidence doesn’t require any reasoning to be considered valid.

Factors Separating Direct Evidence and Circumstantial Evidence

Some elements separate the two types of evidence. To help you understand better, below are the factors to note.

Observation and Inference

Direct evidence observes a thing and then reports its findings precisely. It doesn’t require logical reasoning because it proves a fact directly. On the other hand, inference and logical reasoning are crucial when presenting circumstantial evidence.

For example, if an eyewitness clearly says they saw Mr. X. in Miss Y’s car, that’s direct evidence. However, finding Mr. X’s fingerprint at the accident scene is circumstantial.

Probative Value

This refers to the sufficiency of proving a fact. Direct evidence has more probative value than circumstantial evidence because there’s no need for a second substantiation for direct evidence; it can stand independently. It’s not the same for circumstantial evidence; you’ll need a series of circumstantial evidence to paint a clear picture.

Objectiveness and Subjectiveness

While circumstantial evidence is subjective, direct evidence is objective. Direct evidence either proves a fact or debunks it. When ample evidence negates circumstantial evidence, the court can easily discredit it.

How Do You Use Circumstantial Evidence in an Auto Accident?

As we already established, circumstantial evidence can be helpful in an auto accident lawsuit. It is beneficial in hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver flees the scene. In such a case, you have to collect evidence from the crash scene to prove the fault of the liable party. Hit-and-run drivers deny being at the accident scene after identifying them.

Circumstantial evidence like the license plate number, GPS information, and accident reconstruction experts can help prove your claim. In addition, these pieces of circumstantial evidence can point to the driver’s liability.

Do You Need an Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer to Prove Circumstantial Evidence?

While some people don’t need an Atlanta auto accident lawyer to prove their claim and secure financial compensation, a lawyer would come in handy when relying entirely on circumstantial evidence. An attorney can help you gather circumstantial evidence and piece them together to paint a picture. They also know how to disprove the defendant’s assertions against your proof.

Contact an Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer Today!

Car accidents can be traumatic for victims and their families. Financial compensation can help you get your life back on track while you recover from injuries. However, to secure compensation, you need evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability.

Injury attorneys in Atlanta can help you gather all the evidence you need to navigate your claim and get the compensation you need. We’re excellent negotiators at The Weinstein Firm and will ensure you don’t receive a settlement lower than you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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