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Can a Court Exclude Relevant Evidence from a Florida Personal Injury Trial?

In general, all relevant evidence is admissible in a Florida personal injury lawsuit. The Florida Rules of Evidence define relevant evidence as any evidence “tending to prove or disprove a material fact.” Thus, under the general rule, almost all of the evidence a party would hope to use at trial would be considered relevant.

Merely because evidence is relevant, however, does not mean that it will be admissible because the evidence may be precluded under another rule of evidence. Florida Rule of Evidence 90.403, which is based on Federal Rule of Evidence 403, is among the most important rules of evidence used by parties. Florida’s Rule 90.403 states that “relevant evidence is inadmissible if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading the jury, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”

It is important to note that not all prejudice is considered to be unfair. The type of prejudice that courts are concerned with is that which will allow or encourage jurors to base their decision on something other than the issues involved in the case. A recent state appellate opinion is a good illustration of this concept.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was struck and killed by a truck as she was crossing the road. After the accident, it was discovered that the plaintiff suffered from schizophrenia and had drugs in her blood. The defendant attempted to introduce evidence of the plaintiff’s mental health issues as well as the substances in her system at trial. However, the plaintiff objected, arguing that the evidence was more prejudicial than it was probative. The court agreed with the plaintiff, keeping out the evidence. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

The defendant appealed, arguing that the lower court was mistaken to keep out the evidence. The court agreed with the defendant, and reversed the case for a new trial. The court explained that the plaintiff’s mental health and the substances in her system might have explained to the jury why the plaintiff walked across the road in front of a large truck. The court noted that the prejudice that may have stemmed from the admission of the evidence was not “unfair” because it did not “suggest a decision on an improper basis.”

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car or truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. At the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims in all types of Florida personal injury cases, including those arising from serious car and truck accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Explains the Limits on Circumstantial Evidence in Recent Car Accident Lawsuit, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 27, 2018.

Maintenance Company May Be Liable for Restaurant Employee’s Injuries Following Slip-and-Fall Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 13, 2018.

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