Understanding and Applying the New Jersey Rules of Evidence is an Important Advantage if You are Seeking Compensation for Injuries
This article addresses an aspect of the law that is not well known to the public: the rules of evidence. Notably, New Jersey provides a framework that can be specifically applied to personal injury claims on behalf of injured victims who have been harmed in “tort.” A “tort” is a civil claim of liability. If I am punched in the face, the police may arrest the individual who hit me. That’s a criminal claim. Justice is done to ensure that people are deterred from engaging in that particular behavior. What about me, though? Who will pay for my medical bills? Who will pay for my emotional distress? Therefore we have tort. I can sue potentially my attacker for assault, battery, etc. For each case, there is a burden, which is to prove by a preponderance of the evidence, or through clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt, depending on the case. How do you do this? How does the plaintiff win when seeking compensation for their injuries through litigation? Through specific rules of evidence.
Rules of Evidence? What It Means for Your Personal Injury Case
Article 1 through Article 11 of the New Jersey Rules of Evidence is what governs what and who may be used to prove your case, when it can be submitted, where it is submitted, and why. The best way to think about the rules of evidence is like a track and field event, specifically, hurdles. The finish line represents the piece of evidence being fully considered by the finder of fact, either the Judge or the jury. If the runner (piece of evidence) successfully passes each hurdle and gets to the finish line, it can be used by the party offering it to support their argument.
Threshold Hurdles for Each Piece of Personal Injury Evidence
Threshold hurdles that every piece of evidence must pass include whether or not the particular piece of evidence is relevant (probative value and materiality) and whether or not there is unfair prejudice included with the submission of such. For example, if I am suing the guy that hit me with his car, it would be more prejudicial to him than relevant to my argument if I offered for proof that he was a drug dealer. The court always balances the value added to the case by the piece of evidence with the prejudice it creates against a party. This is always done and is called the Rule 403 Test.
New Jersey Rules of Evidence apply to all civil cases brought before the New Jersey Judiciary, in particular, personal injury cases. Most commonly, these claims include cases of negligence, like car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice claims against doctors/dentists, etc. If you sue anyone because of the harm they caused through their own carelessness or wrongful act, chances are that the New Jersey Rules of Evidence will apply to your lawsuit.
Purpose of the Rules of Evidence in NJ Civil Courts
The rules of evidence ensure a level playing field for everyone. One thing New Jerseyans can find solace in is that the system our government has in place for civil litigation is to ensure a level playing field. However, every system has its flaws. The true purpose of the rules of evidence is to make sure that the right outcome is determined by what is submitted to the court. The right outcome is usually derived from evidence that finishes the hurdle race. Rules allow parties to settle their case out of court (usually to avoid bad publicity or leaving the outcome to be determined by a jury)
The discovery process of litigation allows for investigations to be conducted and for all relevant information to rise to the surface. The rules of evidence make it nearly impossible for a jury or judge to arrive at a conclusion based on a falsehood. They also allow parties to get information that they would not typically get without suing the other party. Tools such as interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, and other phases of the personal injury investigation process ensure that the right information is discovered, and if not, the producing party will be penalized.
Who Supports Experienced Attorneys in Proving a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Whatever information is discovered may need to be deciphered. The information be of a technical nature not readily understood by the finder of fact and therefore may need to be interpreted by an expert in the field of the subject matter it contains. Experts are used in cases involving technical matters or anything that is difficult for a finder of fact to understand. The expert is supposed to explain the subject matter in a way for the jury or judge to understand. Once the finder of fact understands, then, and only then, will the finder of fact arrive at their own conclusion.
Experts can also be used to give an expert opinion on such technical matters, for example, whether or not the tire marks left at a scene of a car accident are indicative of what kind of car was at the scene of the accident before it fled. The testimony of an expert can be extremely valuable, and all experienced personal injury attorneys have a stable of experts they can call upon in order to give a report, testimony, and/or their opinion regarding your particular set of circumstances.
Get an Fluent Attorney’s Help Using the Rules of Evidence to Win if You Have been Injured in Princeton, NJ
Now, most good attorneys can use any evidence for any kind of case and get whatever point across that they want. Great attorneys can do this and to best position their clients for the outcome they want. Rules of evidence must be second-nature; they cannot be in the rearview mirror of your attorney, they must always be at the forefront of their mind, and experienced attorneys keep these rules right there when they’re building your case. The rules of evidence are a language spoken by only those qualified to learn. Just because you are qualified doesn’t mean you speak it fluently. Some attorneys speak the language so well, you would think English was learned as a second language.
If the rules of evidence are not always considered at every step of your case, there is a good chance that an unjust outcome is arrived at by the jury or Judge because a certain piece of evidence was overlooked or disallowed. The rules of evidence must always be conferred in order to avoid this. Experienced attorneys will not allow such oversights. They usually have their own investigators, conduct their own investigation, and arrive at their own conclusions. Experienced attorneys get relevant evidence during the discovery process, like squeezing the juice out of oranges for a beverage. When you have a talented accident lawyer working on your behalf, they can leverage this critical evidence to win your case and recover a financial award for your injuries.
Let our Hamilton Injury Lawyers Examine the Evidence for Your Accident Injuries
At Cohen & Riechelson, our decades of experience handling clients’ personal injury claims has garnered us an extensive repertoire of skills and knowledge about rules of evidence in tort proceedings and civil claim for injuries caused by negligent or reckless conduct on the part of another person, entity, or organization.
When you need help, and seasoned counsel to effectively litigate your claim for motorcycle accident injuries, car crash damages, expenses, and physical harm from a slip and fall incident, or another incident in which you were injured through another’s lack of due care, call upon our Personal Injury Law Firm.
We stand at the ready to assist with all aspects of your injury claim arising out of West Windsor, Princeton, Pennington, Hamilton, Trenton, West Windsor, Mount Laurel, or elsewhere in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey. Contact us at (609) 528-2596 for a free consultation today.