Hearsay refers to second-hand testimony. It is a statement made by someone other than the testifying witness which is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In other words, it is testimony that a witness repeats by someone else to try to prove the truthfulness of the statement.
The Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence states:
“Hearsay is not admissible except as provided by these rules, by other rules prescribed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, or by statute.”
There are, however, numerous exceptions to the hearsay rule. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced trial attorney like the Philadelphia accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates when pursuing your accident case. While many accident cases settle, those attorneys who are willing and able to try your case will likely obtain the maximum value for your personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, knowing the hearsay exceptions is essential. The hearsay exceptions include:
1) Present Sense Impression. That is a statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the person was perceiving the event or condition or made immediately thereafter.
2) An Excited Utterance. A statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.
3) Then existing mental, emotional or physical condition.
4) Statements for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment.
5) Recorded recollection.
6) Records of regularly conducted activity.
7) Absence of entry in the records kept in accordance with the provisions of paragraph number 6 above.
8) Public records and reports.
9) Records of vital statistics.
10) An absence of public record or entry.
11) Records of religious organizations, such as statements of birth, marriages, divorces, deaths, legitimacy, etc.
12) Marriage, baptismal and other similar certificates.
13) Family records, such as family bibles, engravings and rings, family portraits, inscriptions on crypts and tombstones.
14) Records of documents affecting an interest in property.
15) Statements and documents affecting an interest in property.
16) Statements in ancient documents. That is documents that have been in existence 20 years or more.
17) Market reports, commercial publications.
18) Learned treatises.
19) Reputation concerning personal or family history.
20) Reputation concerning boundaries or general history.
21) Reputation as to character.
22) Judgment of previous conviction.
23) Judgment as to personal, family or general history or boundaries.
On occasion, hearsay may be admitted pursuant to another rule promulgated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. For example, in civil cases, such as accident cases, all or part of a deposition may be admitted pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 4020, or a video deposition of an expert witness may be admitted pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 4017.1(g). In preliminary hearings in criminal cases, the court may consider hearsay evidence pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 542(E) and 1003(E).
Also, hearsay may be admitted pursuant to a state statute. Examples include:
1. A public record may be admitted pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 6104. See Comment to Pa.R.E. 803(8) (Not Adopted).
2. A record of vital statistics may be admitted pursuant to 35 P. S. § 450.810. See Comment to Pa.R.E. 803(9) (Not Adopted).
3. In a civil case, a deposition of a licensed physician may be admitted pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5936.
4. In a criminal case, a deposition of a witness may be admitted pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5919.
5. In a criminal or civil case, an out-of-court statement of a witness 12 years of age or younger, describing certain kinds of sexual abuse, may be admitted pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5985.1.
6. In a dependency hearing, an out-of-court statement of a witness under 16 years of age, describing certain types of sexual abuse, may be admitted pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5986.
7. In a prosecution for speeding under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a certificate of accuracy of an electronic speed timing device (radar) from a calibration and testing station appointed by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles may be admitted pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3368(d).
On rare occasion, hearsay may be admitted pursuant to a federal statute. For example, when a person brings a civil action, in either federal or state court, against a common carrier to enforce an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission requiring the payment of damages, the findings and order of the Commission may be introduced as evidence of the facts stated in them. 49 U.S.C. § 11704(d)(1).
As you can see, the hearsay rules are complicated. Not only do the hearsay rules allow you to get into evidence critical information, but the rules can also be used to exclude damaging information from reaching the jury. At Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Rules of Evidence. We are not afraid of trying cases and our results prove this.
Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates: Philadelphia Accident Lawyers That Make the Law Work for You
If you have a personal injury claim, call the accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates for a free consultation. With offices in both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Voorhees, New Jersey, we have a location convenient for you. Call us at 215-567-6600 or contact us online.