In Virginia, can a party to a personal injury lawsuit put on evidence of statements made by an opposing party?

Personal Injury Law Practice

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Yes. According to the Virginia Rules of Evidence, statements offered against a party are considered admissions by a party-opponent and are an exception to the hearsay rule. Click here for a discussion of the hearsay rule in Virginia. According to the Virginia Rules of Evidence, a statement will not be excluded at trial by the hearsay rule, even if the declarant is available as a witness, if the statement satisfies the following definition of an admission by a party-opponent:

A statement offered against a party that is (A) the party’s own statement, in either an individual or a representative capacity, or (B) a statement of which the party has manifested adoption or belief in its truth, or (C) a statement by a person authorized by the party to make a statement concerning the subject, or (D) a statement by the party’s agent or employee, made during the term of the agency or employment, concerning a matter within the scope of such agency or employment, or (E) a statement by a co-conspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

If a prior statement of a party is introduced into evidence and that party testifies at trial in a way that is inconsistent with that prior statement, the judge or jury hearing the case may consider the party’s prior inconsistent statement as evidence that what the party previously said was true. In personal injury cases arising out of car accidents, the admission by a party-opponent exception to the hearsay rule is often invoked when an injured plaintiff testifies regarding statements made by the defendant. In such situations, the defendant might testify at trial in a way that is different from what he or she said at the accident scene, but the injured plaintiff will be permitted to testify regarding the defendant’s statements made at the accident scene. The judge or jury hearing the personal injury case will then be permitted to make a determination as to whether the in-court statements of the defendant or the prior statements of the defendant at the accident scene are to be believed. However, there are certain limitations on the use of the party-opponent exception to the hearsay rule with regard to statements made to insurance companies.

In personal injury cases, another commonly used application of the admission by a party-opponent exception to the hearsay rule comes in the form of the introduction of evidence of a defendant’s guilty plea to a traffic offense arising out of the car accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Click here to learn more about the use of a personal injury defendant’s driving record at trial. A defendant’s guilty plea to such a traffic charge is considered a party admission and can be admitted into evidence at the trial of a subsequent personal injury case, if the guilty plea was freely and voluntarily made.

Questions regarding the hearsay rule and exceptions such as admissions by a party-opponent are specific to the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can advise the prospective client as to what testimony a witness can give at trial and what testimony will be prohibited on the basis of hearsay or some other rule of evidence. As in all personal injury cases, a personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about auto accidents, personal injury and more.

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