Harsh Law – What is admissible evidence in a personal injury lawsuit?

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A tale of two courts…

In the legal system there are civil and criminal cases. For the information in this post, we will be discussing items which relate to civil cases – and those which are primarily used during personal injury cases.

Standard of Proof

In civil law, facts to establish the elements of a case must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence*, which is a lower standard than the one that applies in a criminal case.

*What does a preponderance of the evidence mean? Simply put, if the burden of proof is met when there is a greater than a 50% chance that, based on all the reasonable evidence shown, plaintiff’s claims are true, and defendant did in fact do the wrong that caused the damage. This is different from criminal cases where the instruction is ‘beyond all reasonable doubt.’

In specific circumstances in a civil lawsuit, the burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence of a fact or facts. This burden of proof is heavier than that required by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

What Are Factors for Determining If Evidence Is Admissible?

The basic guideline is that all relevant evidence is admissible, whereas irrelevant evidence is not allowed. Every bit of information must be able to assist the jury in determining whether a fact exists or does not exist. If the data is not connected to a case’s issue, it is irrelevant and thus inadmissible.

There are four basic types of admissible evidence:

Demonstrative: Demonstrative evidence is proof that demonstrates or proves a fact at issue in the case. A photograph of an automobile accident, for example, would be demonstrative evidence because it displays how the collision impacted the vehicle involved in it.

Documentary: Documentary evidence is simply documents that are relevant to an issue in a case. So, for example, in a vehicle collision involving a DUI, the bar tab of the at-fault party may be presented.

Real: Some physical object or item pertaining to the case would be real evidence. For example, the deployed airbag removed from the vehicle would be real evidence.

Testimonial: Testimony is the statement of a witness who testifies in court regarding the facts of a case.

What Are Factors That Determine Whether Evidence Is Inadmissible?

evidence is more likely to be ruled inadmissible if it is:

Unfairly Prejudicial: Evidence that arouses the jury’s outrage without adding any material information – examples such as blood-stained clothing.

Waste of Time: Juries do not have to hear from multiple witnesses to know that the defendant is a person of good character who is typically an honest, trustworthy person, or to prove any other fact.

Misleading: Ineffective evidence might be misleading, and it is frequently excluded. The sexual orientation or marital status of the defendant is almost always unimportant and should not be allowed or considered.

Character: Evidence to prove that the defendant or the victim has a certain personality trait and that the defendant acted consistently with that personality trait is often excluded.

If you have a civil law case, speak with a qualified expert from the Harsh Law legal team with a no-obligation, no-cost consultation. We are here to help you build the best case and fight for the best outcome possible.