How "Proving Up" Evidence Works Under Texas Law
Personal injury cases often come down to "he-said-she-said matches" between the plaintiff and defendant. The plaintiff claims the defendant caused him injuries due to the defendant's failure to behave reasonably, while, SURPRISE, the defendant claims he had nothing to do with it. Jurors get to decide issues of credibility, that is, whose story make more sense.
In other words, it's not enough for a plaintiff to make a claim in court for his case to stick. Instead, the jury must believe what he says and the evidence he introduces. But even before that happens, a judge must be satisfied that the evidence meets a threshold of reliability that it is what it claims to be.
Questions answered on this page
- How do you prove your evidence is real and reliable?
- What types of records can be used as evidence in a personal injury case?
- How can attorney help me with proving my evidence if reliable?
Your lawyer must prove to the court your evidence is real.
Probably the best way to understand this concept is to mentally put yourself in a courtroom, clad in prison orange, falsely accused of possession of narcotics. The prosecutor claims police found 50 grams of cocaine in your car, that you're by default a "drug dealer," and your minimum sentence is 20 years in jail. The prosecutor holds up a bag of white powder and claims THAT is what they found in your car. You've never seen the bag before in your life.
One simple way your defense lawyer should attack the state's case is through what's called "the chain of evidence." The state is required to show who found the powder, who had it next, who had it after that, and so on. What the inquiry will likely show is that somewhere along the way, someone mixed up your name with someone else's.
Your personal injury attorney must essentially do the same thing the state is required to do with the drugs with any evidence he admits to trial. The judge won't admit anything simply on a lawyer's word that it's real. So how can he prove the evidence is real? By two main ways:
- Testimony: Evidence can be authenticated (or "proven up" in legal parlance) by having a witness claim it is real. Let's say the evidence your lawyer wants to admit is a picture of your car after a car accident. One way he can make at least a threshold determination to the court that it's legitimate is by asking you, under oath, to identify it. If you say it's accurate, then the judge will likely enter it into evidence. Now, that doesn't mean the jury must believe that it's accurate, but they'll now have that opportunity. Other forms of testimony can authenticate other evidence: a doctor can testify that, yes, those are his notes about your health, for example. Again, the jury doesn't have to believe that those are the doctor's notes, much less what the doctor wrote in them, but they can now take a look at the notes and make that decision themselves.
- Affidavit: As we go into further detail here,your attorney can prove up police reports, medical records, and similar documents by requesting the official keeper of records sign an affidavit before a notary public that the document is authentic. This process greatly shortens the number of people who have to testify in trial. Typically, if your lawyer does a good enough job, the defendant's lawyer won't bother objecting to these documents coming in.
Proving up evidence takes homework on your lawyer's part
As you can probably tell, preparing for a successful trial requires a lot of crossing t's and dotting i's. Proving up evidence isn't rocket science, but it takes a lot of work. An inexperienced attorney will often forget to do these painstaking tasks until either right before trial (when it's too late) or not remember to do them at all. Don't sit in a courtroom and watch your case fall apart before your eyes. Call the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices in Dallas, TX at (855) 326-0000 for a free consultation.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- Explaining Economic Damages in Texas Civil Law
- The Process of Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Texas
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