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How Spontaneous Declaration Hearsay Comes in in Personal Injury Cases

Yes, testimony was excluded on the basis of hearsay due to its inadmissibility, but there are several exceptions. Today we will talk about the spontaneous declarations exception and how it may be relevant to your personal injury case. As we have discussed before, if we are litigating your case and are at the point of trial, something his likely not gone according to plan. That, by design, is what happens to play and sometimes, so it is good to be cared for when things go awry.

Hearsay, remember, is an out-of-court statement submitted to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In basic terms, it means that hearsay is a statement which was made outside the courtroom proceeding and that you are trying to prove the assertion made in the statement. For example, if I was testifying in court and I said that my cousin looked over at me and said "the sky is blue" And that I was submitting this statement to prove that, in fact, the sky is blue, then this assertion would be hearsay. However, if the purpose of my submission of my cousin statements was simply to prove that it was daytime, rather than nighttime, then the statement would not be hearsay. Now you get.

Spontaneous declaration exception to the hearsay rule says that a statement is admissible if the utterance was spontaneous through debris which reasonably negated premeditation or positive fabrication and intended to qualify, characterize explain the underlying events. So, it is a spontaneous statement made while the underlying events was occurring. Remember, the reason this is admissible is because it tends to be reliable. Let's go through a few examples seeking kind of get an idea of what were talking about.

I am going to pull all of these examples from case law that supports the succession in Massachusetts. In a murder trial which took place in 1996, the court properly admitted into evidence as a spontaneous utterance the victim's statement, "they took my wallet." In another case from 1949, a wife's recorded telephone conversation with police after shooting of her husband was admissible as an excited utterance. There is another 1996 case in which a comment made just prior to a plane crash was allowable.

Really, the idea here is that because the statements are made as an immediate reaction to something that is occurring, they are generally more credible and reliable. There is a distinction in the law between a statement made immediately as reaction and statements made even just a few seconds after the event occurred. The latter example is generally not allowed as an excited utterance or spontaneous declaration. The statements need to be contemporaneous with the action. So how might this come up?

Well, and a personal injury case were talking about someone who's injured, of course. That usually involves some sort of accident or impact and so, a spontaneous declaration made the same exact time is the impact or just before, when it was clear the impact was about to occur, would seem to be acceptable and with in the balance of his exception. For example, let's say a witness looks up and sees a car mowed down a small family of driving on the sidewalk. The witness screams out, "Lookout, he's going to kill you!"

Another example would be a slip and fall on ice in which two individuals are walking across the parking lot with one individual not paying much attention to the slipperiness of the ground below and the other individual notice saying at the last second as she of black ice. Second individual shouts, "Ice!!"

Do not forget, you generally want the party who made the out-of-court statement to physically be in the courtroom to testify. You want to identify that individual early anyone speak with that individual as soon as possible to ensure the individual recollects the events, knows to remember the facts going forward, and knows to stay in touch with your lawyer. The best way to assure this can be done is by making early contact with witness and having your Massachusetts lawyer speak with him or her as soon as possible. If this is impossible, perhaps the spontaneous declaration exception hearsay will allow you to get is her testimony on the record.

Categories: Personal Injury, evidence

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