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Florida Court Explains the Admissibility of Evidence in Car Accident Cases

In Florida, a plaintiff in a car accident case generally must show that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident to recover damages. In turn, if a defendant can show that it was not their negligence but the negligence of the plaintiff that caused a collision, they may be able to obtain a verdict in their favor. While a defendant is permitted to introduce evidence suggesting a plaintiff’s fault, they cannot proffer information that is irrelevant or unduly prejudicial as discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a wrongful death case arising out of a car accident. If you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney about your rights.

The Subject Accident

Allegedly, the defendant, who was driving a car, collided with the decedent, who was operating a motorcycle.  The decedent sustained critical injuries in the accident and passed away shortly after. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant on behalf of the decedent’s estate, alleging that the defendant’s negligence caused the collision and the decedent’s death. No one observed the accident, but one witness saw the decedent shortly before and after the crash. She testified that she saw him perform a wheelie approximately five minutes before the collision and later arrived at the scene of the collision.

It is reported that before the trial, the plaintiff moved to bar the defendant from introducing evidence regarding the wheelie the decedent reportedly performed or suggesting that the wheelie led to the collision, on the basis that there was no evidence he performed a wheelie at the time of the accident. The decedent filed a response in opposition to the motion.

Admissibility of Evidence in Car Accident Cases

In Florida, evidence that is relevant is generally admissible. To be considered relevant, the evidence must make a fact of consequence more or less likely than it would be otherwise. A fact of consequence is one that is relevant to the issues in dispute. Irrelevant evidence, in contrast, is not admissible.

Additionally, even if evidence is deemed relevant, a party may be prohibited from introducing it for other reasons. For example, if the risk of prejudice greatly outweighs the probative value of the evidence, it may be precluded. The act of barring relevant evidence is one that should be used sparingly, however, and the courts will generally rule in favor of admissibility. In the subject case, the court found that the evidence regarding the wheelie was not relevant, as there was no information suggesting the decedent was performing it at the time of the accident. Additionally, it was highly prejudicial. As such, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Meet with a Trusted Florida Attorney

Many people enjoy riding motorcycles, but tragically, motorcyclists are often fatally harmed by other drivers. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, it is wise to contact an attorney to discuss your potential claims. The skilled attorneys of Cardoso Law, PLLC, can advise you of your options for seeking damages and assist you in pursuing the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can reach us via the form online or at (850) 466-2073 to set up a consultation.

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