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Hearsay may be important to a medical negligence claim

Patients who have been injured by a medical professional's negligence may find themselves in a contentious process in their effort to seek compensation for their damages. Recovering compensation can be crucial, as medical expenses can be overwhelming, and the injured may be rendered unable to earn a living.

In order to give one the best possible chance of success on a medical malpractice claim, a victim needs to understand the law and the rules of evidence. Those who fail to obtain a firm grasp of these rules may be taken advantage of by experienced and aggressive defense attorneys who are well-adept at handling evidentiary issues. One critical area of evidence that can be either extremely beneficial or devastatingly harmful is hearsay.

Hearsay is an out of court statement testified to in court by someone other than the individual who made the statement. Therefore, a victim who testifies that another patient said that the doctors made an error would be testifying to hearsay. Hearsay is generally inadmissible at trial, but there are numerous exceptions. Statements by a party opponent, business records, and even statements made for medical diagnosis and treatment may be considered admissible hearsay. For example, if the injured patient presents evidence that the doctor told a colleague that he knew he had made a bad error during the patient's surgery, this out-of-court evidence might be considered admissible.

However, in order to get such hearsay admitted into evidence, or to successfully object to hearsay, an individual needs to know how the rules of evidence apply. Hearsay will come into evidence unless objected to, and hearsay that is objected to will be denied admittance into evidence unless the party proffering the hearsay can provide the court with a justifiable exception to the general rule of exclusion. This particular evidentiary rule can be confusing to the uninitiated, which is why Texans who are pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, whether for a failure to diagnose a medical condition or a surgical error, may find it beneficial to acquire the assistance of a legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, "Hearsay Evidence," accessed on Feb. 26, 2017

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