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Plaintiff’s Recorded Statement Admissible

A plaintiff in an auto-accident personal injury case may not exclude a recorded statement she made pertaining to the parties’ auto accident, which was reproduced in a transcript, but the Rockingham County Circuit Court says plaintiff may object during trial should the statement be used for an improper purpose under Va. Code § 8.01-404.

Code § 8.01-404 prohibits the use of certain types of prior inconsistent writings to contradict a witness in a personal injury action. In iiiRuhlin v. Samaan,iii 282 Va. 371 (Va. 2011), the Supreme Court indicated the purpose of the statutory qualification was to correct an unfair practice that had developed, by which claims adjusters would hasten to the scene of an accident and obtain written statements that were neither full nor correct and were signed by persons not in full possession of their faculties, and then confront these persons on the witness stand with these statements.

The statute prevents the impeachment of a witness by use of an affidavit, statement or transcript made after an accident but before trial. But the statute does not prohibit proof of prior inconsistent statements by oral testimony, even when such statements were reduced to writing and signed by the witness.

Here, the court does not find sufficient basis to exclude the recorded statement at issue in this case. While there are limitations on how the recorded statement can be used at trial, the court will not exclude the recorded statement at this time. The parties may object during trial should any party attempt to use the recorded statement in an impermissible manner. The court also declines to sever the proceedings, should the statement be deemed admissible.

The court grants defendant’s motion in limine to exclude evidence, testimony or any suggestion of defendant receiving a traffic citation from the subject accident.

Richards v. Reed (Lane) No. CL 11-66, April 4, 2012; Rockingham County Cir. Ct.; Mark D. Obenshain for plaintiff; Terry Lynn, Stephen Crum for defendants. VLW 012-8-049, 5 pp.

VLW 012-8-049

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