By definition, hearsay is any statement made outside of court but repeated at trial to support the legitimacy of the asserted matter. The hearsay rule regulates what evidence a judge or jury can take into account at trial and can apply to both oral testimony and written documents. When a witness obtains information from someone else but did personally observe the event, unless some exception applies, that witness cannot repeat what the other person told them. Instead, the witness’s testimony must be based upon their own experience, a first-person account. In personal injury cases, the hearsay rule often has profound implications on proving legal issues, such as negligence and damages.
An Example Of Hearsay
If a witness to a collision says, “I saw the yellow Ferrari make a right turn and hit the red Honda in the front driver’s side.” This would be regarded as an acceptable statement because the witness is recounting what they saw with their own eyes. However, if the witness says, “After hearing a loud noise, I looked over and noticed that a crash occurred. Jane Doe told me she saw the accident, and the Ferrari T-boned the Honda.” That would be considered an inadmissible statement under the hearsay rule. This is because Jane is not present at trial to be cross-examined by the opposing counsel, and the witness only recounts what Jane Doe said instead of something observed firsthand.