Circumstantial Evidence Legal Definition

What is Circumstantial Evidence?” 

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Circumstantial Evidence Legal Definition

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Circumstantial Evidence legal definition: Circumstantial evidence is defined as information that strongly suggests that a fact is true, but does not prove it. Often used in conjunction with direct evidence, the purpose of circumstantial evidence is to help infer that a legal theory or set of circumstances is true. While circumstantial evidence is widely viewed as weaker than direct evidence, it is an important component of civil and criminal cases alike.

In fact, circumstantial evidence is an important tool in establishing liability in many types of personal injury cases. Successful personal injury claims often include both circumstantial and direct evidence. 

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Circumstantial Evidence in Car Accident Injury Cases

Circumstantial evidence is used often in car accident cases to prove the crash that caused your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence. A skilled car accident injury attorney may use many different kinds of circumstantial evidence in your case to help prove liability. 

Types of circumstantial evidence used in car accident injury cases include:

  • Photographs of the crash scene
  • Diagrams depicting how the crash occurred 
  • Images depicting the damage to your car, as well as all other motor vehicles involved in the accident
  • Eyewitness and expert testimony
  • Skidmark analysis
  • Crash scene reconstruction diagrams or videos


Circumstantial Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

Circumstantial evidence can be a crucial component of medical malpractice cases, as well. To prove medical negligence, attorneys representing injury victims may employ a legal doctrine known as Res Ipsa Loquitur – a latin term that means “the thing speaks for itself.”

This type of circumstantial evidence must show that:

  1. The incident or injury could not have occurred without negligence
  2. The injury could only be caused by the defendant
  3. The injury victim could not have contributed to the accident 

As in other types of personal injury cases, testimony offered by expert witnesses is also a type of circumstantial evidence utilized to prove medical malpractice claims.


Circumstantial Evidence in Personal Injury Cases

The most common form of evidence used in personal injury claims, and is especially true in product liability and car accident cases. Much of the forensic evidence used in these types of personal injury cases are considered circumstantial. 

Forensic evidence such as skidmark analysis, crash reconstruction diagrams or videos, and other physical evidence that helps suggest but not prove liability and/or negligence is considered indirect or circumstantial in car accident injury cases.

In many instances, product liability cases utilize circumstantial evidence such as expert witness testimony. In other cases, circumstantial evidence is used to establish that a product defect causes your injury. This type of circumstantial evidence could include:

  • Information related to the history and use of the product that caused the accident
  • Information regarding similar accidents and injuries caused by the product that harmed you
  • Information regarding similar products that causes similar accidents 
  • Information regarding the most likely cause of the malfunction in the product that caused your injury


Circumstantial Evidence in Workers’ Compensation Cases

In Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, circumstantial evidence would be utilized in situations where the severity of your injury, its impact on your ability to perform the essential functions of your job, and the extent that your injury is disabling is disputed.

If you’ve been denied workers’ compensation benefits, or your workers’ comp benefits have been suspended or terminated, circumstantial evidence would be used to help prove your case and recover the compensation you deserve for your injury. 




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