Contrary to the popular belief, not all evidence that you believe to be “relevant” is admissible in a personal injury case at trial. But before we delve into the matter of inadmissibility of relevant evidence in a personal injury lawsuit, let’s define what constitutes “relevant evidence” for Florida courts.
We invited our personal injury lawyer Cooper City to explain in which circumstances a Florida court can exclude relevant evidence from a trial. First and foremost, it is true that all relevant evidence is admissible in a personal injury case.
However, in order to be classified as “relevant evidence,” the evidence that is being presented in a Florida court must be “tending to prove or disprove a material fact.” “In other words,” says our Cooper City personal injury lawyer at Law Offices of Bradley S. Hartman, P.A. “Pretty much any evidence can be considered relevant if the lawyer of the party presenting the evidence can prove that the evidence is relevant, so much depends on the skills and experience of your attorney.”
Not all relevant evidence is admissible in court
But here’s where it gets complicated. Just because the evidence is relevant does not necessarily mean that the evidence is admissible. That’s because the evidence can be excluded from a personal injury lawsuit under another rule of evidence. More often than not, relevant evidence can be excluded from personal injury cases due to Florida’s Rule of Evidence 90.403.
For example, relevant evidence can be excluded from a personal injury case if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice, causing confusion of issues, misleading the jury or unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence.
Our experienced personal injury attorney in Cooper City explains that you can exclude evidence against you if you can prove that the evidence will encourage jurors to issue a judgment based on something other than the material facts in the case.
How relevant evidence can be excluded from a personal injury case
In order to get a better understanding of how relevant evidence can be inadmissible in a personal injury lawsuit, let’s review an example. A pedestrian was struck by a car while crossing the road in a marked crosswalk. In the course of the discovery process in a personal injury trial, the car driver’s attorney discovered that the plaintiff suffered from mental health issues and had drugs in his system during the accident.
The defendant attempted to present the evidence to argue that the injured plaintiff’s mental health issues, as well as drugs in his blood, contributed to the accident. Initially, the jury excluded the evidence after agreeing that the evidence was more prejudicial. After the defendant appealed, the court sided with him and agreed that the plaintiff’s mental health issues and drugs in his blood could be a contributory cause of the pedestrian accident.
In other words, it can be rather confusing as to which evidence can be used in a personal injury case and which evidence cannot be used because it is more prejudicial than probative in its nature. In most cases, it is advised to consult with a Cooper City personal injury attorney to determine whether or not the evidence that is being used against you or the evidence that you are trying to use in your favor is relevant and admissible in a Florida court.