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Admissibility of Pain and Suffering Hearsay in Your Personal Injury Case

If you have had a personal injury in Massachusetts, you will clearly need to provide evidence of your damages to the court. Included in that are your damages for pain and suffering--that is, the actual pain that you have had to deal with and the suffering that has gone along with it. That pain and suffering is actually worth money in your personal injury case and should be taken seriously.

Oftentimes, when people are injured, either in a car accident or otherwise, they may shout out in agony comments regarding their physical condition. Those comments are technically hearsay: they are out-of-court statements submitted to prove the truth of the matter asserted. "Ouch, my leg feels like it's falling off!"--a comment like that can be pretty handy in the jury's determination of the pain and suffering associated with the injury. A comment like that also tends to be reliable and credible, because it tends to be made as and impulsive reaction, as opposed to a well-thought-out statement.

As a result, some comments regarding pain and suffering are admissible in personal injury cases, but some are not. One of the oldest cases that discusses this issue is the case of Edwin Bacon v. The Inhabitants of Charlton. The case is from 1851, but it is still relevant and good law. In that case, Mr. Bacon was riding in a carriage through the town of Charlton, in Western Massachusetts. As Mr. Bacon rode his carriage through town, some obstruction in the road caused him to be thrown. When he landed, he incurred injuries and it seems he called out and groaned regarding them.

The presiding judge of the trial court case ruled that the groans or exclamations of pain made by Bacon, at any time, were admissible in evidence. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court noted the trial court's examples, such as "oh my head" or similar types of complaints would be admissible. The court specifically noted that comments made with a view to communicate information in an open narrative or aiming to provide a statement of conditions or feelings would be inadmissible. Ultimately, Mr. Bacon prevailed and recovered a jury verdict of $561.

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you've already been injured and are researching your legal rights. So, it is probably too late to cry out groans or exclamations of pain associated with your accident. But, if you already did, know that they are likely admissible as evidence in your case, as to the severity of your pain and suffering at the time of the accident.

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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