Hearsay Exceptions

Date: November 19, 2009
Posted In: DLP Law

Many times in litigation one party, during a court proceeding, will object to a question stating that the requested answer is hearsay. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement by another party offered to prove the truth of the matter that is then being asserted. More times than not, it is a statement made by an individual who is not present in court and, thus, cannot be cross-examined by the party to whom the statement is intended to be used against. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule.

Amy sought to recover benefits for the death of her husband under an accidental death rider to an insurance policy. Amy\’s husband was killed in an airplane accident. Soup and Salad Insurance Company claimed that the rider in the policy they had written for Amy\’s husband excluded death in an airplane crash and, therefore, refused to pay the claim.

Under the applicable law, it was necessary for Soup and Salad Insurance Company to show that Amy\’s husband was aware of the exclusion and understood its ramifications. Amy offered evidence of numerous statements made by her husband while he was alive that he was never aware that any such exclusion existed in the policy he had with Soup and Salad Insurance Company.

The court held that Amy\’s husband\’s awareness and understanding are states of mind, and thus the court held that Amy\’s husband\’s statements were admissible under the “state of mind” exception to the hearsay rule. Thus, even though the insurance company would never have the opportunity to examine him on that issue, Amy\’s husband\’s lack of knowledge of the exception would be part of the evidence in the trial. In all likelihood, Amy will succeed in forcing Soup and Salad Insurance Company to pay the death benefits.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.