One of the most common means of communication used today is text messaging. An interesting question regarding text messages is whether they can be admitted into evidence in proceedings involving personal injuries, auto accidents or other claims that are resolved through the civil court system.
Whether or not a text message can be admitted into evidence in a court proceeding is governed by the particular court’s rules of evidence where the case has been filed.
Each state and the federal court system has its own code of evidence, which sets forth the rules for what can and cannot be considered by a judge or jury. The purpose of having such rules is to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and authenticity of all evidence considered.
Without such rules, which are very detailed and have strict requirements for something to be considered admissible to be used as evidence at a trial, evidence in court proceedings would be a free for all. Therefore, any potential piece of evidence must meet these stringent criteria in order to be considered by the jury or judge.
The question becomes whether your text messages after an accident where a person in another vehicle is injured would be admissible, or could be used in a court proceeding to prove that you caused the accident or some other fact about the circumstances surrounding the accident. For instance, if you are involved in a rear-end collision with another vehicle. Immediately after rear-ending the vehicle in front of you, you send a text message to your best friend that says the following: “I cannot believe I just did that. I wasn’t even paying attention and I just plowed into the driver in front of me. I really hope this doesn’t make my car insurance rates go through the roof.”
Let’s assume that the other driver has filed a lawsuit against you seeking thousands of dollars in damages and wants to use that text message against you in court to prove that you caused the accident and should be held responsible. His attorney has asked to examine your phone and phone records, which the judge has permitted him to do, and the other attorney finds this text message and seeks to introduce it into evidence at trial. He likely will be able to do so because you would have no reason to lie to your best friend about the circumstances of the accident, particularly where you were admitting fault. As a result, the judge is likely to rule that the other attorney could introduce the text message in question as evidence at trial.
If you are involved in an accident, be careful not to send any potentially incriminating text messages admitting fault or that say anything inconsistent with whatever you may have told the other driver(s), your insurer, or the police about the circumstances of the accident. Although your first thought after being involved in a car accident likely will not be about the potential consequences of sending a text message to a friend or loved one, such messages could be admissible in any court proceeding involving the accident and you want to make sure your story is consistent and there is nothing out there that could hurt your case.
If your vehicle has been damaged or you were injured in an accident with another vehicle, contact an attorney right away. If your case goes to court, you’ll want an experienced and skilled attorney by your side when negotiating with the driver and his or her insurance company. An attorney knowledgeable about the rules of evidence can make all the difference in a case where text messages like those described are an issue in court.