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What Types of Evidence Can You Present in a Personal Injury Case?

What Counts As Inadmissible Evidence in a Lawsuit?

Did you know that a lack of evidence is one of the most common reasons a person loses a lawsuit? The evidence you present can make or break your personal injury case, but keep in mind that the court won't allow you to bring up certain types of evidence. Here's what you need to know about acceptable evidence in a personal injury case.

Illegally Obtained Evidence

First, all types of evidence must be legally obtained. You cannot secure evidence through theft, harassment, physical intimidation or computer hacking. So even if your Allentown personal injury lawyer told you a certain video could help your case, you shouldn't break into someone's laptop to steal those videos. The court will usually refuse to look at this evidence or consider it in its ruling. Furthermore, admitting that you illegally obtained evidence in court can open you up to further lawsuits and even criminal charges. It can certainly be frustrating to know there's helpful evidence you cannot obtain. However, performing illegal acts to obtain the evidence is never a good idea.

Prior Criminal History

Many people are surprised to learn that a person's criminal past won't usually affect the outcome of your current case. In Pennsylvania, the law typically prevents past criminal records from being used as evidence in court in new cases. Someone's criminal history is not proof of any defects in their character. For example, you probably couldn't use a neighbor's past domestic violence arrest as proof that he or she hit you during an argument. Keep in mind that there are some exceptions to the rule. If the criminal activity was extremely similar to your current case, the court may let you present it as proof of a pattern of behavior. This is decided on a case-by-case basis, and your personal injury attorney will usually need to formally talk to the court about the issue before your case is heard.

Unreliable Evidence

Evidence is supposed to be cold, hard proof of your claims, so the court doesn't let you bring up very unreliable evidence. If the evidence you mention in court is deemed unreliable, the court will either refuse to hear it or decline to consider it when making its ruling. There are all sorts of examples of unreliable evidence and hearsay. It can come in the form of witness testimony, social media posts, letters or even police reports. Determining what is and is not reliable evidence can be tricky. This is usually left up to the discretion of the court. It may let you use unverifiable evidence, like witness testimony, to determine the general circumstances surrounding the case. However, secondhand accounts usually are not admissible if they are being used to prove the main argument of your personal injury case. For example, if a witness says, "the defendant told me it was a nice day," that statement can be used to describe the defendant's overall state of mind or demeanor. However, it couldn't be used to prove that it was, indeed, a nice day.

How to Tell If Evidence Is Admissible

As you can see, there are all sorts of legal details that determine whether a piece of evidence will help your case. Your Allentown personal injury lawyer can help you figure out what evidence to present in court. In addition to helping you decide on an evidence strategy for your case, your attorney can also ensure the right evidence gets heard. Since evidence admission is left up to the court's discretion so often, you need a lawyer who can argue on your behalf. At Metzger & Kleiner, we have plenty of experience dealing with these sorts of issues. Our team is happy to discuss the available evidence in your case and help you figure out what to bring to court. To schedule a free consultation at our Allentown or Philadelphia office, call us at (215) 567-6616, or fill out our contact form.

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