The Types of Evidence that Can Be Excluded during Litigation
In the American courts, when parties have a legal dispute and are in the early stages of preparing a case, the principle of “open discovery” generally applies. That means that both parties have equal access to all potential evidence. It’s important to understand, though, that even though parties may uncover information or evidence related to a personal injury claim or other legal matter, not all evidence may be admissible in court. In fact, the court often conducts hearings before the trial to determine the admissibility of certain types of evidence, so that a jury won’t be unfairly prejudiced by hearing evidence that is inadmissible.
What Types of Evidence Can Be Excluded at Trial?
The admissibility of evidence in a personal injury trial is governed by either the Federal Rules of Evidence or the applicable state evidentiary rules. As a general rule, though, a court may prevent parties from introducing evidence that is:
- Not relevant to the matters to be resolved at trial—For example, a party may seek to introduce evidence of prior criminal acts in an effort to portray a defendant in a negative light. That evidence may be inadmissible if it has not bearing on the accident or other matters involved in a personal injury claim.
- In the form of an opinion—Unless the witness is qualified as an expert, he or she may not give opinion testimony, but may only testify regarding the facts of the case
- Inadmissible hearsay—This rule can be complicated, but it essentially prohibits a witness from reporting what another person said, if the statement was made outside of court and was introduced to prove the truth of the statement made. For example, if a witness heard another person say “I saw the defendant run the red light,” the witness cannot testify in court that he heard that statement, if the testimony is introduced to try to prove that the defendant ran the red light.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
At the Law Offices of Howard D. Popper, we can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after any type of personal injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.