Evidence That You May Think Should be Allowed, but Usually Is Not
Trials on TV or the movies always seem so easy. Almost everything that’s said in a trial gets admitted into evidence. Every now and then there’s an objection, but that’s usually for something that makes for good TV.
In real life, in court, there are many things that logic would dictate should be admissible but in fact are not. Clients themselves often don’t understand why certain facts or documents (usually ones helpful to their case) are inadmissible in trial.
Here are a few things that you would think should be admissible, but in most cases, are not:
Remedial Measures/Subsequent Repairs
Let’s say that you fall on a stairwell with no hand railing. A week after you fall, you notice the property has installed a handrail. That should be admissible, right? The fixing of a dangerous condition should be evidence that there was something wrong in the first place that needed fixing.
But in most cases, this kind of evidence is not allowed. Because public policy favors repairing dangerous conditions, if the property owner knows that fixing a dangerous condition will be used as evidence against him/her, he/she will be less willing to fix it.
After your accident, the guy in the other car offered to pay for your car damage. Now, after you have filed a lawsuit, he is saying he, in fact, was not the liable party–it is you who was at fault. Why can’t you use his settlement offer to show that he at one point took responsibility?
The law doesn’t allow this. The policy reason is to encourage people to settle disputes out of court or before trial and nobody would try to do that if they knew that just trying to settle could be used against them in court.
The law also realizes that a settlement offer is not necessarily an admission of guilt at all; it may just be an attempt to avoid further litigation.
Prior Bad Acts
As a general rule, you cannot introduce evidence reflecting bad character. In Florida, in a civil case, only crimes involving false statement or fraud and felonies committed as an adult within a reasonable timeframe are admissible to impeach a witness’s credibility.
Although in many cases, an insurance company, and not the defendant individually, is paying for (and hiring and choosing) a defendant’s lawyer, and paying whatever a jury may award, it is inadmissible to convey to a jury that an insurance company is involved unless you are suing your own insurance company such as in a UM automobile case or your homeowners’ insurance.
Make sure your attorneys are ready to try your injury case if needed. Contact the Celeste Law Firm in West Palm Beach today for a free consultation to discuss how to recover damages for injuries you may have suffered.