Not All Evidence That You Think is Admissible Can be Used in an Injury Trial
There is a very big difference between the courtrooms that we see in the movies or on TV, and the courtrooms where injury trials are conducted. Many people understand that trials must follow the rules of evidence but many are surprised to find out some of the things that the rules of evidence do not allow a jury to see or consider.
As a general rule, police reports are not allowed to be admitted in personal injury trials (although they are still useful in the investigation and pre-trial litigation of injury trials).
The law believes that the weight that police officers’ reports carry with a jury can influence them too much. A police officer is permitted to testify, but that can have limited value given memory lapses that can occur because of the time between the accident and a trial.
Repairs to Property
It may seem intuitive that when a property owner fixes a problem on property, these repairs are good evidence that some problem existed on the property in the first place.
However, repairs to defective property are not allowed to be considered to show that what was being repaired was deficient or dangerous. The law encourages property owners to keep property as safe as possible. If people knew that fixing something could be “admitting” a problem existed, they would be unlikely to make repairs.
We also tend to believe that someone who offers to settle with us after an accident must be liable. Sometimes people may say things while making settlement offers that sound like they are helpful to a case, such as “sorry I hit you, can I pay you for your damages?”
However, settlement offers are not allowed to be admitted into evidence. The law wants to encourage people to settle cases before trial, and if people knew that offering to settle can be used against them, they would be hesitant to do so.
Additionally, many people settle just to avoid the hassle and expense of trials, not as an admission of guilt.
In many cases, even though the named defendant is a person or business, it is an insurance company that is defending the defendant, and paying any settlement or verdict.
However, a jury is not allowed to be told of an insurance company’s role in defending the defendant. This is why victims sue the person or business, and not the insurance company (although there are cases where the insurance company is the correct party to sue).
The Florida rules of evidence are a bit different than the federal rules, but they follow the same general guidelines. If you don’t understand what is admissible and what is not admissible, you run the risk of thinking your case is stronger (or weaker) than it actually is.
Make sure your injury attorneys are prepared to try your case in court if needed. Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Jacobs Legal today for help in every step of your personal injury case.