Some Evidence May Be Excluded From Your Injury Lawsuit

November 1, 2018

If you’ve been injured due to the fault of another — their negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct — then Pennsylvania law may entitle you to pursue an action for damages.

Importantly, the success of personal injury litigation often turns on the outcome of evidentiary battles.  For example, whether your claim for damages succeeds might depend on whether you can prevent the defendant from introducing evidence that shines a negative light on your character.

Excluding Irrelevant Evidence

Evidence may only be admissible if it is relevant.  Irrelevant evidence has no place in litigation.

Rule 401 of the Pennsylvania code succinctly defines “relevance” in the evidentiary context.  In accordance with the rule, evidence is relevant if:

  1. It has a tendency to make a fact more or less probable; and
  2. The fact is of consequence in determining the action.

For example, in a slip-and-fall case, evidence concerning the regularity/consistency of the floor inspection schedule would likely be relevant, as it would help determine whether the defendant adhered to their duty of reasonable care.

Not All Relevant Evidence is Admissible

If the evidence is relevant — in other words, if it has probative value with regard to some material fact pertaining to the case at-hand — then you might still be able to prohibit its introduction.

Rule 403 of the Pennsylvania Code describes the circumstances under which relevant evidence may be deemed “inadmissible.”  Specifically, relevant evidence may be inadmissible if its probative value is outweighed by the danger of:

  • Unfair prejudice;
  • Confusing the issues;
  • Misleading the jury;
  • Undue delay;
  • Wasting time; and/or
  • Needlessly presenting cumulative evidence

Suppose, for example, that you are injured in a car accident.  The negligent defendant-driver is attempting to introduce evidence that you gestured inappropriately (in anger) at them a minute before the accident.

The defendant believes that this evidence is relevant as it might indicate that you were distracted, and that this may have also contributed to the accident.  You could argue, however, that the introduction of such evidence would be unfairly prejudicial, as the jury might characterize you as a “mean” or “rude” person, which would divert their attention away from their duty to weigh the evidence impartially.

Contact an Experienced Allentown Injury Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation

Personal injury lawsuits may seem straightforward upon first impression, but this is not always the case.  In many instances, the dispute may involve a complicated push-pull dynamic wherein the defendant is quite hostile to the plaintiff’s arguments.  Given the possibility of a high-conflict dispute that could drag on for some time, it’s important that you take full advantage of the legal tools available to you — including the ability to prevent the introduction of evidence that could undermine your claims.

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience advocating on behalf of injured plaintiffs in a variety of disputes, from motor vehicle accidents to slip-and-fall accidents to product liability lawsuits.  We are committed to the provision of client-focused legal representation, and as such, we maintain open lines of communication.  This helps us keep our clients informed about case developments, and further helps us to gain an informational advantage (that empowers us to act decisively when the opportunity presents itself).

Call (610) 433-3910 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Allentown injury attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today.