Hearsay rules of evidence are used to govern which out of court statements are allowed to be used by a lawyer during a personal injury trial. If Sally testifies that “at the accident scene Joe said the accident was the fault of the white car,” Sally’s testimony will probably be hearsay, as she is testifying to what another person said. Hearsay is generally not allowed because it is considered unreliable. It would be more reliable to have Joe come to the courtroom himself to say what he saw.
While the general rule prevents hearsay, the rule has numerous exceptions. For example, if Joe made his statement as he was dying, Sally might be allowed to testify to the statement. The law assumes that a statement by a dying person is more reliable. If Joe were to testify at trial that the blue car was at fault, Sally could testify that Joe said the white car was at fault to impeach Joe. Some of the other evidence rules/exceptions that are commonly used to get hearsay into the courtroom are the excited utterance rule, the party admission rule, the present sense impression rule, and the state of mind rule.
Hearsay and numerous other rules of evidence, some of which originate in law that is older than the United States itself, often guide the tactical decisions of your personal injury attorney. When you are involved in an accident that results in a life changing injury, you need a board certified personal injury lawyer that understands the rules of evidence and can quickly make objections.