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Do I need to know about hearsay for a personal injury lawsuit?

A sudden and unexpected car accident can leave you seriously injured. While the pain from the initial collision may fade over a matter of minutes, hours, or days, the financial impact caused by such a wreck can have even longer lasting effects. Medical expenses and lost wages can leave you struggling financially, causing you to face uncertainty with regard to housing, transportation, food and other expenses.

A personal injury lawsuit may provide you with the compensation you need to recoup your damages, but this is often dependent upon the strength of your claim and your ability to utilize, and protect yourself with, the rules of evidence. One of the most well-known rules of evidence is hearsay. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement made in court by someone other than who made the statement for the purpose of proving the truth of whatever is asserted.

For example, an individual generally cannot testify in court that a police officer told him that the driver was speeding at the time of the accident. This is hearsay. In order for the police officer's statements to be admissible, he or she would have to testify in court. There are a number of exceptions to the general hearsay rule, though, including excited utterances, statements against a defendant's interests, and certified business records.

Why do you or your legal representative need to know how to handle this issue? Because allowing hearsay into evidence can be damaging to your case. Also, by knowing the exceptions, you might be able to strengthen your case by getting otherwise inadmissible evidence in. Therefore, when preparing your case, you need to understand hearsay and how it will affect your witness list, your strategy and your defense against the other side's attacks.

Source: FindLaw, "'Hearsay' Evidence," accessed on Oct. 24, 2016

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