There are vast stretches of the Internet dedicated to figuring out whether someone is telling the truth. As you click on article after article about studying someone’s eye movements, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language in order to find out whether they are being honest, you are making clickbait marketing companies rich, but you are not getting any closer to the truth. The best way to know whether someone is telling the truth is whether what they are saying is believable. A credible argument does not contradict itself, and when you find out other information from other sources about the same subject, the new information agrees with the person’s argument instead of proving it wrong. You might not have thought about these issues since you took a class on persuasive writing or media literacy in college, but if you are a plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit or any other kind of personal injury lawsuit in Kansas or Missouri, your credibility and that of your witnesses can make or break your case. The car accident lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC in Kansas City can help you avoid mistakes that could undermine your credibility in your personal injury lawsuit.
How Credible do You Have to be to Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Some facts are ambiguous and difficult to prove with absolute certainty. For example, in a personal injury case, you must prove that your injuries are the result of the defendant’s negligence. Sometimes, doing this is straightforward; if you are claiming that your broken leg is the result of the car accident that the defendant caused, the police report from the accident and the records of your emergency room visit immediately after will clearly prove that. If you are trying to prove that your neck pain and headaches are the result of whiplash injury you suffered in a car accident last year, things are not so simple. Yes, the police report and emergency room records show that the accident happened and you were diagnosed with whiplash injury, but neck pain and headaches can have many causes. The defendant or his or her insurance company will attempt to argue that your symptoms are due to some other cause. They may argue that your neck pain is due to sitting at a computer all day at work, or maybe your headaches are a result of the sleep deprivation experienced by anyone who works full time and then comes home to a baby who has yet to sleep through the night.
In this case, are the plaintiff’s symptoms because of the car accident or because of the other factors in her life? It is impossible to know with complete certainty. If personal injury cases used the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence, which is the standard that criminal courts require in order to convict a defendant, then it would be almost impossible for injured plaintiffs to recover damages. Therefore, the standard of evidence in personal injury cases is “a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence is the cause of your injuries, and it is more likely than not that the other claims you are making in the lawsuit are true.
Your Medical Records can Help or Hurt Your Credibility
In a personal injury case, medical records almost always form the most important evidence that determines the outcome of the case. That is why you should get examined in the emergency room as soon as possible after the accident so that your medical records will clearly indicate when the injury occurred. Of course, the defendant will scrutinize every detail of the medical records you plan to use as evidence; in fact, it is their right to inspect them. If you have a habit of exaggerating your symptoms when talking to healthcare professionals, the doctor will use this against you. For example, if you told doctors that your pain made it impossible for you to leave the house, but you posted pictures on Facebook later that evening from a barbecue you were attending, the judge and jury have every reason to doubt that your injuries are as serious as you say they are. The best way to avoid this problem is to be honest with doctors and physical therapists about your symptoms and not to exaggerate.
Recorded Insurance Statements: How to Avoid the Biggest Credibility Trap
After most car accidents, insurance adjusters will call you quickly after the wreck and ask to take a recorded statement from you about the accident and your injuries. They do this to determine each driver’s percentage of fault and to quantify the financial losses that resulted from the accident. They are also trying to reduce the amount they are responsible for paying to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, they may ask you misleading questions in an effort to get you to contradict yourself. Even when their attempts to get out of paying are not that blatant, they still listen to your statement multiple times and try to find inconsistencies in your story.
Medical Expert Witness Credibility in Missouri Courts
Summoning expert witnesses to interpret your medical records at trial can strengthen your case, but they must craft their testimony carefully, or else the judge will not allow them to present it. Missouri, like most other states, follows the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony. The Daubert standard dictates that judges must review the expert’s testimony before the expert presents it to a jury; the judge should have a chance to check the expert’s sources to make sure the expert is not fabricating data or drawing misleading conclusions. When expert witnesses cite published research, the studies he or she states should be directly relevant to the case and should explain their methodology clearly.
The Personal Injury Lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC can Protect You from Efforts to Undermine Your Credibility
The truth is on your side, and so is your car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help you present evidence in your case in a way that leaves no doubt as to the truthfulness of your claims. Contact Foster Wallace, LLC in Kansas City, Missouri for a free consultation.