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Circumstantial Evidence

Definition - What does Circumstantial Evidence mean?

Circumstantial evidence is evidence which is not observed or drawn from direct observation but rather is assumed based on the elements of the personal injury case. For instance, if a person witnesses a driver speeding through a red light and crashing into another car they are an eye-witness and able to give direct testimony to the material facts of the case. If, however, they only hear the sound of the car crash and arrive on the scene moments later, they do not have direct testimony to the facts of the case, only inferences which can be made based on what they see at the scene after the fact.

Personal injury and circumstantial evidence

Personal injury cases often rely on circumstantial evidence, which include inferences which may not point directly to a fact. For instance, at the accident scene described above, if you take a picture of the damage on the front of your car where the other car hit you, this is circumstantial evidence. This type of evidence differs from direct testimony, which someone who actually witnessed the accident could present to the court.

The photograph only proves, however, your car was involved in an accident at some point in time, not that the defendant hit you because they ran the red light. Additional information or evidence may be needed to create a link between the circumstantial evidence of the photo and the claim the defendant's negligent actions of running the red light caused the crash, resulting in damage to your car and injuries to your person.

Jury decisions and circumstantial evidence

The court's job in a civil case is to consider all evidence, including circumstantial, and decide whether the dots have been connected, so to speak. The jury will hear all testimony and determine whether they believe you have provided enough evidence to prove your claims that the defendant is responsible for your injuries and damage to your car.


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