If you are seeking compensation from the person responsible for your injuries, fair legal proceedings are important. An experienced Maryland car accident attorney can assert your rights at trial by objecting to the submission of prejudicial evidence. As demonstrated in a May 18, 2018 car accident case, the admission of certain documents and testimony in a jury trial could have a significant impact on the outcome.
The plaintiff in the case was rear-ended by the defendant while she was stopped in traffic. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that she was injured as a result of his negligent driving. One of the defenses asserted by the defendant was that his brakes failed. After a three-day trial, a jury found that the defendant was not negligent. One of the plaintiff’s major arguments on appeal was that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a repair invoice. The invoice contained notes written by the mechanic about information he obtained from the defendant, as well as statements regarding the repairs made to the defendant’s vehicle.
It was undisputed that the statements contained in the invoice concerning the condition of the defendant’s brakes were hearsay. Hearsay is generally inadmissible, unless it falls under an exception. The trial court admitted the invoice under the residual exception. The residual exception to the hearsay rule provides that a hearsay statement that otherwise does not fall under any other exception may be admitted if it is relatively trustworthy, if it is more probative as to an issue than any other evidence that can reasonably be obtained, if advance notice of the statement is provided, and if doing so will best serve the interests of justice.
On appeal, the court ultimately found that it was a reversible error to admit the repair invoice into evidence. After reviewing the evidence of record, the court concluded that no exceptional circumstances were present to warrant the admission of the invoice, that advance notice was not provided to the plaintiff or the court, and that the record was insufficient to establish whether or not the invoice was trustworthy and more probative than other evidence that could have been offered on the issue. In particular, the appeals court explained that since the invoice could have been admitted under the business record exception if the foundation was properly laid, it did not meet the criteria for the residual hearsay exception.
The appeals court went on to rule that the admission of the invoice was prejudicial to the plaintiff. The court reasoned that the jury likely gave significant weight to the opinion of an automotive technician on the invoice, and it noted the plaintiff was unable to cross-examine the technician who rendered the opinion. Based on the errors, the court reversed the judgment and granted the plaintiff a new trial.
The Maryland injury lawyers at Foran & Foran, P.A. can provide trustworthy advice to accident victims and their families. We have successfully represented plaintiffs in Maryland personal injury cases arising out of car accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical negligence, wrongful death, and more. Make an appointment with an experienced attorney by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Plaintiff Wins Appeal to Pursue Car Accident Claim That Originated Ten Years Ago, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published May 14, 2018
Maryland Court Orders Insurance Company to Cover Loss for Wrongful Death Claims Arising Out of Car Accident, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 17, 2016