In Virginia, can a party in a personal injury lawsuit introduce into evidence a recording of a 911 call from the scene of a car accident?

Personal injury lawsuit 911 calls Virginia Beach

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Maybe, if an exception to the hearsay rule is applicable to the 911 call. Click here to learn more about the hearsay rule in Virginia. One exception to the hearsay rule that might permit the admission of a recording of a 911 call into evidence at the trial of a personal injury case is the present sense impression exception. Writing on the requirements of the present sense impression exception to the hearsay rule, the Virginia Court of Appeals has said:

In order for the present sense impression exception to apply, three requirements must be satisfied: “(1) the declaration must have been contemporaneous with the act; (2) it must explain the act; and (3) it must be spontaneous.” Clark, 14 Va.App. at 1070, 421 S.E.2d at 30.

Explaining the rationale behind the present sense impression exception to the hearsay rule, the Virginia Court of Appeals has said:

“The ‘circumstantial guarantee of trustworthiness’ of this exception is found in the contemporaneousness and spontaneousness of such statements.” Friend, supra, § 18-20, at 798. “ ‘The trustworthiness of the assertion arises from its timing. The requirement of contemporaneousness, or near contemporaneousness, reduces the chance of premeditated prevarication or loss of memory.’ ” Foley v. Commonwealth, 8 Va.App. 149, 161-62, 379 S.E.2d 915, 922, aff’d on reh’g en banc, 9 Va.App. 175, 384 S.E.2d 813 (1989) (quoting Booth v. State, 306 Md. 313, 508 A.2d 976, 980 (1986)) (emphasis added).

If the trial judge determines that the 911 call was contemporaneous with or nearly contemporaneous with the events described by the 911 caller, that the 911 caller described the events he or she observed, and that the 911 caller’s statements were made spontaneously, then the 911 call might be admissible at trial as an exception to the hearsay rule. It is also possible that the 911 call would be admissible under some other exception to the hearsay rule, such as an admission by a party-opponent.

Questions regarding the admissibility of evidence at trial and exceptions to the hearsay rule are specific to the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to call one of our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can advise the prospective client as to what testimony a witness can give at trial and what testimony will be prohibited on the basis of hearsay or some other rule of evidence. As in all personal injury cases, experienced personal injury lawyers can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

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