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The Use of Documentary Evidence in A Personal Injury Trial

In general, like other kinds of evidence, documentary evidence must be relevant to be admissible. In the case of writing, the document’s authenticity is one aspect of its relevancy. But keep in mind documentary evidence, even if fully authenticated and relevant. It may be excluded if it violates a rule for competencies such as the best evidence rule or hearsay. If any problems or question concerns a document, you should consider three separate and distinct possible barriers to admissibly (1) Authentication, (2) Best evidence, and (3) Hearsay. 

The Use of Documentary Evidence in A Personal Injury Trial

(1) Authentication 

Before a writing or any secondary evidence of its content may be received in evidence, the writing must be authenticated by proof that the writing is what the proponent claims it is. The writing is usually not self-authenticating. It needs a testimonial sponsor or shepherding angel to prove that the writing was made, signed, or adopted by the particular relevant person. The authentic nature of a document may be admitted through the discovery process, through stipulation at the pretrial conference, or by a failure to deny an allegation in a pleading.  

(2) Best Evidence Rule

The best evidence rule is more accurately called the “original document rule.” It may be stated as follows: in proving the terms of writing (recording, photograph, or x-ray), where the terms are material, the original writing must be produced. Secondary evidence of the writing, such as oral testimony regarding the writing’s content, is permitted only after it has been shown that the original is unavailable for some reason other than the severe misconduct of the proponent.

(3) Hearsay 

Hearsay is a statement, other than the one made by the declarant while testifying at the current trial or a hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The rules against hearsay are probably the essential exclusionary rules of evidence in any legal proceedings. If a statement is hearsay and no exception or exclusion applies, the evidence must be excluded upon proper objection.     

The more complex the personal injury case, the more documentary evidence is essential to simplify the issues and allow the jury to understand the facts. Documentary evidence can also be used in explaining how an accident occurred. The importance of the effective use of documentary evidence cannot be overstated. This is particularly true for issues such as medical conditions and medical treatment. The personal injury attorney must convey to the jury a clear sense of what the injury is and the medical treatment for that injury.

At Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, our firm focuses the entirety of our time and expertise on representing those who have suffered a personal injury and helping our clients through the entire recovery process – physical, emotional, and financial recovery – from their injuries. We allow our clients to tip the balance of justice into their favor through our years of experience and devotion to our clients. Our care and preparation are core principles and keys to our success. The lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, can help you navigate this issue and answer any questions that you may have. If you would like to speak to someone about your particular situation or for a free and confidential consultation, call our office at (713) 366-HURT (4878) today or visit us online www.houinjurylawyers.com.

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