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Why do I need to know about hearsay for a car accident case?

Whether a person in New York is pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, their employer, a medical professional, or a hospital, they should have some understanding of the law. While this includes statutes and their elements, it also includes the rules of evidence and trial procedure. These highly technical areas of law may seem tedious, but in fact your ability to successfully utilize them could make a huge difference on the outcome of your case.

For example, hearsay evidence can either buttress your claim or seriously damage it, depending on the circumstances. Hearsay is an out of court statement that a witness testifies to in court, but the witness is not the one who made the out of court statement. Generally speaking, hearsay is disallowed. However, there are a variety of ways to circumvent this general rule and get hearsay admitted into evidence. To start with, one should realize that a statement by a party opponent is not hearsay.

There are also a number of exceptions to the hearsay rule. Business records, for example, are not considered hearsay, and neither are documents evidencing a conviction. Also, statements that are made while the declarant is under extreme stress may be considered an excited utterance and thus an exception to the hearsay rule. Present sense impressions, as well as statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment, are also exempt from a general hearsay objection.

While exploiting these exceptions can be helpful to your car accident or medical malpractice case, they can also be harmful, as hearsay is only disallowed if a proper objection is made. Furthermore, if someone objects to your offering of hearsay, you need to be ready to respond with why it fits an exception.

As you can see, dealing with hearsay matters can be challenging, but crucial, to your case. Therefore, if you feel that you need assistance addressing evidentiary issues such as this, you may want to contact an attorney with experience in personal injury cases.

Source: FindLaw, "Hearsay Evidence," accessed on March 6, 2017

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