The evidence and testimony presented in your personal injury trial have a huge impact — either positive or negative — on your case. So it's vital to understand what evidence you can and cannot admit in court, and why. One of the most difficult obstacles for some cases to overcome is avoiding hearsay. What is hearsay in court? And how can you avoid it? Here's what you need to know.
What Is Hearsay in Legal Cases?
For legal purposes, hearsay is any statement made out of court but which is being admitted to assert the facts of the matter. In lay terms, this means that someone said or wrote something outside the court environment, and one party wants to present it as evidence for the judge or jury to consider true.
What Are Some Examples of Hearsay?
The easiest hearsay examples that many fall into are statements that a witness brings up while they're on the stand. For example, a witness might testify that the plaintiff told the witness they were afraid of the defendant. Or perhaps the witness states that the defendant said the other party had run a red light before the accident. The witness didn't make the statements in the courtroom.
Written items can also be hearsay. Without further corroboration, many types of letters, emails, reports, notes, and texts cannot be admitted into court as evidence since they were created outside the courtroom and cannot be subjected to cross-examination on their own.
How Can You Avoid Hearsay?
If some piece of evidence or testimony could fall afoul of the hearsay rules, there are two primary ways to fix the problem. The first is to have the person who made the statement or wrote the item come to court and testify to what they said or wrote. This can be done in person, but many cases allow remote testimony or depositions as well. If the person makes the statement in court, it is no longer hearsay.
The second common way to avoid this problem is to use hearsay exceptions. Business records, medical records, and public records are often permitted as evidence. Excited utterances at the scene of an accident can also be considered by a jury.
Where Should You Start?
Avoiding hearsay issues can be tricky since most ordinary citizens are not familiar with them. The best way to build a case free from hearsay is to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your state. Make an appointment today to learn more. For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer near you.