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Legal How-To: Proving an Injury

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

In most personal injury cases, the main point of contention is proving who was at fault for an accident or an injury. But just as important is proving the injury itself and the extent of the harm. Damages are an essential element of any injury claim and even if you can prove another party was negligent, you won't be entitled to any recovery if you can't prove your injury.

Depending on your circumstances, this could be as simple as an x-ray of a broken hip after slipping and falling in a store. Other injuries may be much more complex or hard to demonstrate. Here are some considerations for how to prove an injury:

Physical Injuries

The most important first steps you can take in a personal injury case are documenting what happened and documenting your injuries. The first step to proving your injuries is proving when and how they happened.

If you are involved in an accident or hurt by a product, document the incident with detailed notes and photographs, if possible. Make sure to keep track and get copies of any official documentation like police reports and medical diagnoses.

In some cases, you may not know the exact moment you are injured. Injuries from toxic exposure or medical malpractice may take time to develop or identify. So you may be required to do some research for paperwork or documentation. Qualified injury attorneys will know exactly where to look for injury evidence, as well as how to secure expert testimony regarding hard-to-prove injuries.

Emotional or Reputational Injuries

Not all injuries are broken bones - some tort cases can involve damage to our psyches or reputations. And proving emotional distress or reputational injury from defamation can be more difficult than printing out a doctor's bill.

In an emotional distress case, some courts may require evidence of a physical or bodily injury accompanying the emotional trauma, as well as evidence marking the intensity or severity of your mental anguish. And while demonstrating personal humiliation or harm to one's reputation in the community for a defamation claim may be a challenge, there are some statements that are so damaging that they are deemed defamatory on their face and are therefore presumed to be harmful.

Proving an Injury: Checklist

An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to assess your claim and advise you on the legal requirements to proving your injury. But there are three ways that you can help:

  1. Document the Incident: Personal notes, pictures, and interviews;
  2. Research the Reports: Police reports, medical records, billing statements; and
  3. Assist your Attorney: Give your personal injury lawyer as much information as possible.

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