Evidence that Can Be Ruled Inadmissible
In New Jersey and across the United States, when parties are preparing a personal injury case, the principle of open discovery applies, ensuring that all parties have equal access to information and evidence related to the lawsuit. It’s important to understand, though, that not all evidence uncovered by the parties may be admissible at trial, as it may be unreliable or may have little relationship to the material issues involved. In fact, it’s customary for the court to hold hearings in advance of trial to determine the admissibility of some types of evidence, so that the jury may not be unfairly prejudiced by hearing inadmissible evidence during the course of the trial.
What Types of Evidence Can the Court Exclude from a Trial?
The admissibility of evidence is governed by the relevant rules of evidence—the Federal Rules of Evidence apply in personal injury claims in federal courts and state evidentiary rules govern all state court proceedings. Though the rules may be slightly different from state to state, there are some general limitations:
- Evidence may be excluded if it is deemed irrelevant—The evidence must have some bearing on the issues that need to be resolved. For example, an injured party typically cannot introduce evidence of a defendant’s poor credit rating, if that has nothing to do with the cause of the accident or the damages suffered.
- Evidence may be excluded if it provides opinion, rather than fact—A qualified expert witness may give an opinion in court, but all other witnesses must limit their testimony to the facts
- Evidence may be excluded if it is considered to be hearsay—A witness may not testify as to what another person said outside of court, if the testimony is introduced to prove the truth of the out-of-court statement. For example, a witness may not testify that he heard a third party say that he knew that there was ice on his sidewalk, if introduced to prove that there was ice on the sidewalk.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.