What is Speculation?
In cases involving personal injuries, numerous pieces of evidence may be used. Police reports and medical records are examples of popular types of evidence, and witness testimony is also frequently used.
But this creates an issue because although witness testimonies may be valuable, they are flawed. After all, they are given by imperfect human beings.
In court, speculation occurs when a witness offers their opinion or makes educated guesses about what transpired. An experienced attorney can help you prepare the most compelling case possible.
What Are Common Examples of Speculation?
It is against the law to introduce speculation as evidence in a court of law since it is not credible. It’s possible to make an accurate guess and be right, but there’s no way to prove it in court.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 24-7-701 states that in court, a witness’ opinions regarding what may or may not have happened are disregarded in favor of hard evidence, such as what the witness saw or heard.
A few frequent instances of speculation are:
- Stating Why Something Happened: In an automobile accident case, a witness may testify that they watched the driver swerve suddenly. That is a proven fact. They could only guess why the driver swerved, though, since they weren’t in the car with the driver.
- Making Character Judgments: Let’s say you filed a claim with your insurance company after suffering a neck injury, and a representative visited your home to investigate. That is a proven fact. If they say you strike them as the type who would make up an injury, they are only speculating.
- Filling in the Blanks: An eyewitness allegedly saw an accident caused by a drunk driver. They stayed nearby and observed the cops administer a breathalyzer test to the driver. Later, the witness learned that police had detained the driver. Those are facts.
If questioned, the witness can only guess if the driver was drunk because they did not see the results of the breathalyzer test.
Is Speculation Allowed in Court?
Generally speaking, no. However, expert witnesses are often called to testify to provide their opinion rather than hard evidence. For instance, calling in an expert witness not to present new evidence but rather to help the jury grasp complex scientific principles in the case.
Professionals in the field of medicine may be called upon to testify as expert witnesses. As a result, they can contribute to the court’s understanding of abstract ideas. They won’t offer their assessment of the case until they’ve seen the paperwork. They serve the court by clarifying whether or not your argument is plausible.
Personal injury cases also frequently make use of medical diagnoses as supporting evidence. These conclusions are based on experts’ best predictions and should be given greater weight than ordinary citizens.
How Does Speculation Enter Testimony?
Speculation creeps into court cases for two reasons:
- Human Nature: It makes sense to guess and fill in the blanks when people treat you as an expert on what happened in a big case, as they do with all witnesses. Even if it means guessing instead of giving facts, witnesses try to help.
- Strategy: Lawyers know that speculating can be helpful. If it makes the jury more likely to side with them, they might not mind a little speculation. Lawyers from insurance companies, in particular, will use speculation if they know it will make the plaintiff look bad. They might break the rules or try to get a witness to say something that could be used against them, hoping that no one will object.
Objecting to Speculation
Your lawyer has the right to object to any speculation, whether it’s in open court or a deposition. There are two ways they can do this:
- Objecting to Questions That Require Speculation: An attorney will sometimes ask a witness a question that makes it clear they have to speculate. Before the question is even answered, your lawyer can object.
- Objecting to Speculative Testimony: In other situations, a witness may speculate on their own. Your lawyer can also object to this. If the judge agrees that it’s just pure speculation, they can suppress the question (not used as evidence), or the jury can be told in open court not to take that statement into account.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Brown Firm
If you have been injured, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!
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