Mesa AZ | Preparing for a Personal Injury Claim
Q: I am searching for an attorney and preparing to bring a personal injury claim. I was injured about three months ago when my neighbor accidentally backed out of his driveway and into me. I ended up with a severely broken leg that required surgery and will require long-term care. I have been researching the ins-and-outs of a personal injury claim, and I think I understand what I need to prove that the neighbor was at fault. And I understand that I need to prove damages. I wanted to ask you: what should I be doing in order to prepare to prove damages?
A: The first thing you will want to do is make sure that you hire a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. Proving damages is one of the areas where experience counts the most. Only an experienced attorney will know how to help you gather and prepare evidence that will be admissible in court and give you the best shot at recovering a desirable damage amount on your claim. It’s one thing to know what the law is, but knowing how to use evidence to convince a jury is another matter.
Second, you will want to look over Arizona’s Revised Civil Jury Instructions, specifically the elements of damages that a jury will be allowed to consider in your case. The elements are as follows:
The nature, extent, and duration of the injury.
The pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of the injury.
Reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment, and services rendered, and reasonably probable to be incurred in the future.
Lost earnings to date, and any decrease in earning power or capacity in the future.
Loss of love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the marital or parent-child relationship.
Loss of enjoyment of life, that is, the participation in life’s activities to the quality and extent normally enjoyed before the injury
You can think of these as ‘categories’ of damages that you can seek. It is not an exhaustive list, and you could seek damages from sources not listed here in some cases, but it’s a good starting point. Start to think about what categories might apply to your case.
Third, you should think about what evidence you might be able to gather to support damages from each of the categories above. Such evidence could come from medical records, witness accounts, photographs, etc. For example, if you are seeking damages based on “the nature, extent, and duration of the injury,” you might want the jury to see photographs of your injury taken when the accident occurred or when you received treatment. You might also want records or testimony regarding how long you will need treatment. If you are seeking damages based on “reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment, and services rendered, and reasonably probable to be incurred in the future,” you will need to present your medical bills, along with proof of your future bills. Or maybe you missed work while in the hospital, and you want to seek damages based on “lost earnings to date, and any decrease in earning power or capacity in the future.” You will need to get proof of what your typical paycheck is, and proof that you missed paychecks because of your injury.
Of course, not all evidence is going to be admissible in a trial. Arizona’s Rules of Evidence govern what is and is not useable in court to prove your claim. You can find and review the Rules here. As already discussed, an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the Rules of Evidence, help you find and prepare evidence that will be admissible in court, and then formulate a plan to use the evidence to persuade the jury to grant you the damages you seek.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding What Do I Need to Prepare to Prove Damages, or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.