“But the doctor said…” Dealing with Hearsay

Hundreds of times I have heard injured victims say, “but the doctor told me…” only to have insurance defense counsel cut them off with “Objection ! Hearsay !” Which is usually granted by the judge, causing the witness to look around, confused, and then never get the vital testimony into evidence. An experienced trial lawyer who actually takes cases to court will know how to deal with “the Hearsay Rule” and get relevant evidence before the judge and jury in a car crash personal injury case. The Hearsay Rule basically means a witness cannot make a statement about what someone said outside of the courtroom, when that person is not subject to being sworn in and subject to cross examination to test the truthfulness of what they said. There are exceptions to this rule, but at its core, the trial judges in a personal injury case do not want witnesses saying what other people told them “off the record.”

In some cases, the doctor’s “off work” or “disability note” can be introduced into evidence. Likewise WRITTEN instructions, limitations, restrictions and prescriptions can be introduced through the injured victim’s testimony, even if the doctor is not present to testify, if the plaintiff took action or had expenses because of these writings. At the Abrams Landau law shop, rather than spend many thousands of dollars for a treating doctor’s time in court, we have had nurses and physical therapists come and read their notes to the jury, which is allowed, because it is what they “said” at the time of the treatment, and they are subject to cross examination. In some car crash cases, we have forced the defendant’s lawyers to agree to allow out of court statements into evidence. And in other cases, we have been allowed by the judge to elicit testimony by our clients as to what they did based upon what their doctors told them.

An injured victim is usually not allowed to say, “My doctor told me I was disabled from my job.” However, this important evidence can get into the record without violating the rule against Hearsay. We can show what was said by the doctor about being disabled by proving the negative – i.e., “Did any doctor ever order you to go back to work ? We you ever given a note clearing you to return to full duty work? Did your job required a doctor’s certificate to go back ? Did you ever receive one?” Bottom line, it is critical to have an experienced trial lawyer, who actually goes to court on a regular basis, representing you in a personal injury case. A skilled personal injury trial lawyer will know how to properly bring the necessary evidence before the judge and jury in order to help you to prevail and receive reimbursement for all of the harms and losses the defendant driver’s negligence caused.

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