In matters of personal injury, key legal components of a case can include negligence and liability. A person is negligent if they owe a duty to another, breach that duty, and the person caused injury as a result of that breach, and there are damages. In personal injury cases, often the case comes down to the actions of the parties involved, and who is liable for any damages.
By way of example, think of a car accident scenario. Driver A strikes Driver B, who is turning left at an intersection on a yellow light. Driver A gets out of the car and exclaims that the accident is his fault because he was speeding.
The admission by Driver A may be admitted to the trier of fact (judge or jury) in litigation. Under Indiana Rules of Evidence1, this admission may come in under the excited utterance or statement or present sense impression. That is, with the commotion of the accident, if Observer C overhears Driver A admit the accident was his fault and he was speeding, Observer C could potentially testify in Court and state what he heard Driver A exclaim.
The statements from the victim can also be used during litigation to determine damages. In the case above, if Driver B says that he saw the light turning red, but turned anyway, he may be found to be comparatively at fault (also contributing to the injury) and damages may be reduced or unavailable based on this comparative negligence2. This means that both parties were negligent, perhaps effectively washing out the liability recovery.
Because the actions of the parties and liability are so paramount in personal injury cases, statements admitting liability can be extremely detrimental to a case, such as “Sorry, I was texting”. Therefore, it is important when an accident with injury occurs to be aware of the situation and what is said. Instead of making admissions or trying to determine fault, determine if anyone is hurt and whether an ambulance is needed. Then, have the police called to the scene for an accident report.
Being injured in a personal injury matter is frightening and overwhelming. Try to keep as calm as possible, and explain the facts of the matter without making any admissions. An attorney can be of great assistance in a personal injury matter. Speaking with an attorney quickly can help you preserve your best case moving forward.
We hope that this blog has been helpful in exploring the importance of communication if involved in a personal injury matter. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.