You’ve probably heard the term “hearsay,” but do you really know what it is? Read this post from a Memphis TN personal injury lawyer to learn more:
What is Hearsay?
According the Rules of Evidence, “hearsay” is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at a trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Stated otherwise, hearsay is when a witness relays words or statement somebody else actually made. For example, testimony that begins, “And then after that, he said ______,” the words in the blank would constitute hearsay.
Let’s say you were in a car wreck and you’re trying to prove that it was Driver X’s fault. The only witness to the car accident, other than you, was a lady waiting at a bus stop. You talked to the lady after the wreck and she told you it was Driver X’s fault because Driver X was speeding and ran the red light. But, the lady was in a hurry, and you didn’t want to bother her by asking for her contact information.
At trial, you will not be allowed to testify about what the lady told you. You can’t testify that she said Driver X was speeding and ran the red light, because that would be hearsay. It is hearsay because you (the declarant) would be testifying at trial about a statement made by someone else (the lady witness), and you would be trying to use her statement to prove that Driver X was, in fact, speeding and at fault.
Many clients believe that if a police report assigns fault for the accident to the other driver, or if the other driver receives a citation, then it’s a slam dunk for their personal injury case. However, that is not necessarily true. In most states, a police report, and the statements contained within it, are hearsay and not admissible at trial to prove fault. This means you can’t just take a police report to trial with you to prove the other driver was at fault. If you have a witness, then the witness must come testify in-person himself/herself.
Witness Contact Information Matters!
Many people are reluctant to get contact information from witnesses to a car wreck, but you definitely should. Indeed, independent eyewitness testimony at trial is often the best evidence to have on your side. In fact, if you have favorable eyewitness testimony, it can make your case much easier to settle without having a trial.
If you need help with your car wreck case, contact a skilled attorney today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience fighting for car accident victims in Tennessee.