Although many people assume differently, the term “hearsay” describes a verbal statement said outside of the courtroom that’s brought into the trial to support a claim. It’s considered unverified information and, therefore, inadmissible in court.
It’s a rule that guides courtroom litigation and ensures that only verifiable information is used to reach a verdict. Still, the term is complicated, and there are various exceptions that allow information to pass through the legal membrane and into the argument.
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Is Hearsay Common in Personal Injury?
Hearsay in courtrooms isn’t unique to any specific area of law, case type, or other specific characteristic; It varies on a case-by-case basis. Accidental hearsay is most common because people simply don’t realize their words are outside of the guidelines.
You should stay vigilant against hearsay as the at-fault party advocates for their argument, but it’s really up to your attorney to monitor for violations and speak up in your defense. This is one of the many reasons it’s recommended to enter the process with strong legal counsel at your side.
Are the Exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay?
There are many exceptions to the rule against hearsay, with each having its own respective exceptions and restrictions. Each state has different rules of evidence as well, which deepens the technicalities and makes it much less accessible.
Here are the four that you should know:
- Testimony given at someone’s deathbed
- Former testimony
- Statements concerning the individual’s family history
- Statements against interest
- A claimant’s own statements against the person or organization who caused the claimant’s unavailability
If you’re concerned that hearsay was allowed during your trial or that your evidence qualified for a hearsay exception that was not granted, it’s best to reach out to trusted legal counsel and learn more about your legal options. They can help confirm the validity of your claim and assist with the follow-up process.
What’s an Example of Hearsay in Personal Injury Law?
Here are a few common statements that can violate your state’s rules against hearsay.
- If Witness A says, “I heard Witness B say that he heard Witness C say that the defendant was faking their injury,” that would be considered hearsay. Because Witness A didn’t hear the statement directly, it’s technically unverifiable in a courtroom.
- If Witness D says, “Witness E told me our supervisor said he would handle closing duties,” that would also be considered hearsay. Once again, Witness D didn’t witness the exchange of information and cannot state it’s 100% accurate.
- Witness F says they read that the defendant is a habitual domestic abuser in a local inquirer outlet. That statement cannot be considered verifiable because Witness F didn’t make the statement; The news outlet did.
Hearsay rules are complicated, technical, and often ambiguous without a formidable legal foundation. Morgan and Morgan can help you understand more about the hearsay rules that apply to your specific situation, all for no upfront costs.
Not Sure if It’s Hearsay? Contact Morgan and Morgan
Even some of the most experienced attorneys find themselves at a legal crossroads with hearsay rules. For someone without prior knowledge, it can be impossible to decipher the legal jargon and find the rules - or exceptions - that govern your unique circumstances.
At Morgan and Morgan, we leverage a network of resources nationwide. If we’re unable to solve the puzzle, we know someone who can, and we’ll leave no stone unturned as we advocate for the rights that protect you. Complete our free, no-risk case evaluation to get started with our team, then we’ll reach out with more information.