Hearsay – out-of-court statements made by individuals who are not present in court which are offered in court for the purpose of proving the truth of the matter asserted in the statement – is generally inadmissible in a South Carolina court hearing (whether for a personal injury case or another type of case). However, this is not a blanket prohibition against the admission of all hearsay: there are certain exceptional circumstances in which hearsay statements will be admitted. In general, the circumstances under which hearsay will be admitted are those where there is something about how and when the statement was originally made that gives the court some assurances that the statement, when originally made, was accurate and not fabricated.
Hearsay Exceptions in South Carolina
Some of the more common exceptions to hearsay include:
- Present sense impressions/excited utterances: When a person is surprised or under the “heat of the moment” because of a surprising, stressful, or traumatic event, an out-of-court statement made by the person may be admitted as an exception to hearsay. It is believed that a person under such stress and trauma does not have the time or incentive to fabricate a lie. Generally, these statements must be made almost contemporaneously with the exciting event.
- Dying declarations: When a person genuinely believes that he or she is about to die and he or she makes a statement, this statement may be admitted as an exception to hearsay – even if the person ultimately survives. These statements are admissible because courts believe a person who is “on death’s door” is unlikely to make a statement he or she knows to be untrue.
- Admissions by a party: If the other party makes an out-of-court statement, that statement can be offered in court regardless of whether that person decides to testify or not. So in a car accident case, for example, if a witness heard the other party admit that he or she was not paying attention when going through the intersection, that witness can repeat what he or she heard the other party say – even if the other party elects not to testify.
- Statements made for purposes of medical treatment: A statement made by a person who is attempting to receive medical treatment can be admitted as an exception to hearsay. These statements might include complaints about symptoms, the cause of injuries he or she sustained, or other similar statements. Courts generally feel that a person who is attempting to obtain medical care would not have an incentive to fabricate how he or she is feeling or where his or her injuries came from. (Note, though, that a court can exclude these statements if they were made after litigation began.)
The South Carolina personal injury lawyers, at David R. Price, Jr., P.A., can review the evidence, testimony, and statements available in your case and will utilize all available and admissible evidence – including statements admissible as exceptions to hearsay – to help you achieve a favorable result in your personal injury case. Contact their office today by phone, or complete the firm’s online contact form.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.