Admissible and Inadmissible Evidence in Car Accident Injury Lawsuits

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If you went to school during the era of New Math, you probably had to solve at least one set of word problems where only some of the information was relevant to the question you were trying to answer.  The problems might have gone something like, “Betsy bought three pounds of cherries and used them all to make cherry pies.  She made eight pies, baking each one for one hour.

How many ounces of cherries were in each pie?” Part of the task was deciding which information needed to be part of the equation you set up and which information you could ignore.  Deciding which information can form the basis of a decision is an important part of a judge’s job, both in criminal trials and in civil lawsuits like car accident injury lawsuits. In fact, courts sometimes reject evidence if it is inappropriate for various reasons.  A good St Louis car accident lawyer will help you gather the strongest evidence to support your case while abiding by the rules that determine which evidence is permissible to present in court.

Relevant and Reliable

Missouri’s own Mark Twain classified statistics as a type of lie.  Meanwhile, a classic Motown song advises believing half of what you see and none of what you hear.  In a court of law, the rules about what evidence you can use to persuade a judge or jury require that the evidence be relevant and reliable.  In other words, the parties should not use their evidence to confuse the judge or simply to waste time. In a personal injury lawsuit, both parties will want to assert their credibility and that of their witnesses’. 

They will also try to cast doubt on the evidence presented by the other party, and one of the ways to do this is to call into question the person’s credibility. Anything negative that your lawyer or witnesses say about your opponent or his or her witnesses is inadmissible on the grounds that it is irrelevant, unless it directly relates to your case.  For example, if you claim in a car accident injury lawsuit that the defendant cheated on his wife, even if you present evidence, it is irrelevant. Being an unfaithful spouse does not make someone a careless driver.

For evidence to be reliable, it must not be hearsay.  If the evidence is a document, you must show that it is authentic (not fake or forged).  If you use witness testimony, you must show that the witness is credible. Expert witness testimony is subject to the Daubert standard, which sets rules about the methodology of the studies cited by expert witnesses.  The Daubert standard also requires judges to evaluate expert witness testimony before allowing jurors to hear it.

Contact Walton Telken Injury Attorneys About Car Accident Cases

Lawsuits can consume a lot of time and money, so choose a lawyer with a good sense of which evidence is admissible and effective.  Contact Walton Telken Injury Attorneys in the Kirkwood, Missouri area for a legal consultation if you are thinking of filing a lawsuit related to a car accident.

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