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Are Business Records Admissible in my Massachusetts Personal Injury Case?

While Massachusetts evidentiary rules apply to all Massachusetts state court cases, as a Boston personal injury lawyer, I always think of the implication of our evidentiary standards as they apply to personal injury matters, specifically. We have published a series of blog entries having to do with the hearsay rule and its exceptions. As we've discussed several times before, hearsay is an out-of-court statement submitted to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If the statement submitted either in court or under sworn testimony, then it is hearsay and inadmissible unless our law has carved out an exception.

Today we talk through one of the more understandably reliable exceptions to the hearsay rule: the exception of business records. Whether we are dealing with personal injury cases or any type of case in Massachusetts, the reliability of business records tends to be consistent. That is, documents and records created in the ordinary course of business tend to be reliable.

Let's say, for example, that a lawyer sought to submit into evidence a time sheet, which had been punched by an employee. On the time sheet was written the date and time the employee started and ended work. That type of evidence would tend to be reliable--the idea is that this record is one of many records produced in the ordinary course of business. The likelihood that it was fabricated or not otherwise authentic is low.

What types of business records would ordinarily come into play in a personal injury case? (Note that when we talk about business records in personal injury cases, we are not talking about medical records, as those records have a separate exception carved out.) As a lawyer seeking to submit business records and evidence to further my case, I'm more likely thinking of employment records. Lost wages are an ordinary and regular component of our personal injury cases. It is a primary means of curbing damages when someone has missed work as a result of an accident, slip-and-fall, or some other negligent act. If I seek to submit business records evidencing the missed work and corresponding wages, should I be required to bring in a records custodian to get beyond the hearsay rule? The records custodian may be necessary for other purposes, but the hearsay rule provides an exception here.

Understanding the evidence rules is an important part of taking on potential litigation. There are plenty of attorneys, even personal injury lawyers, who take on cases without any intention of litigating. When that is the case, there is not as big of an interest for the lawyer to understand the intricacies of Massachusetts evidence law. The fact is though, if you don't resolve your case through negotiation, you will need to litigate your case to get a fair recovery. Therefore, if you have a Massachusetts personal injury case, I highly recommend you speak to a competent Massachusetts personal injury lawyer. To speak with one in our office, call today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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