Maryland’s Dead Man Statute May Prevent a Plaintiff from Testifying to Conversations with a Defendant

Recently, a Virginia appellate court issued an opinion discussing the state’s dead man statute, which may preclude a witness from testifying to conversations that the witness had with someone who has died. Ultimately, the Virginia court determined that the deceased defendant’s statement was properly entered into evidence. While Maryland’s dead man’s statute is a little different than Virginia’s, this case helps illustrate the differences. As always, reach out to a Maryland car accident attorney for help answering questions about the facts of your specific situation.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a Virginia car accident where the defendant rear-ended him. After the crash but before the case reached trial, the defendant died from unrelated causes.

Evidently, at trial, liability was not at issue because the defendant’s estate admitted the defendant was at fault. However, the estate contested the amount of damages the plaintiff was seeking. In support of its case, the estate presented testimony from the deceased defendant’s son, who testified to a conversation he had with his father shortly after the accident in which the defendant told his son that the accident occurred at “five to seven miles per hour.”

The plaintiff objected to the admission of the defendant’s statement to his son through the son, arguing that the dead man’s statute precluded admission. Virginia’s dead man’s statute allows for the admission of statements made by someone who has died but precludes admission of uncorroborated testimony that is adverse to the deceased’s position. Here, the court clarified that the statement of the deceased defendant was admissible and did not need to be corroborated.

Maryland’s Dead Man Statute

Maryland’ dead man statute is contained in Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 9-116. Under section 9-116, an adverse party cannot “testify concerning any transaction with or statement made by the dead … unless called to testify by the opposite party, or unless the testimony of the dead … has been given already in evidence in the same proceeding concerning the same transaction or statement.”

Thus, Maryland’s dead man statute is slightly different from Virginia’s in that it does not provide for the categorical admission of statements made by the dead. Similarly, an adverse witness will only be allowed to testify regarding conversations with the deceased if the party representing the deceased either calls that witness to testify or the deceased’s statements on the same subject have been entered into evidence.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent personal injury victims and their families across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and have a strong command over the carrying legal principles in each jurisdiction. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland and Virginia Car Accidents Caused by Unsafe Roads, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 24, 2018.

The Importance of Error Preservation in Maryland Personal Injury and Car Accident Cases, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 11, 2018.

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