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Relevancy Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Summarizes Relevancy Cases

Brien Roche

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Relevancy. For more information about legal relevancy see the pages on Wikipedia. 


2015 Cain v. Lee, 290 Va. 129, 772 S.E.2d 894.
In this auto accident case defendant admitted liability. Defendant’s post-accident behavior was therefore irrelevant.

2004 Dandridge v. Marshall, 267 Va. 591, 594 S.E.2d 578.
In this auto accident case, several evidentiary issues arose:
1. Plaintiff in this case was referred to a pain management specialist who was not going to testify at trial. Defendant sought to exclude any mention of the pain management specialist by the   plaintiff. Testimony of this treatment by the plaintiff was of relevancy to show that plaintiff followed instructions of his first doctor and it also supported his claim of permanency;

2. Defense medical examiner testified as to comment made by plaintiff during examination that he had extensive financial obligations and he hoped he could meet some of them as a result of this lawsuit. This statement was relevant since it cast light on the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries;

3. Defense medical examiner attempted to testify that plaintiff used his money to purchase an assault weapon and ammunition rather than seeking further medical treatment. The prejudicial effect of that outweighed its probative value and as such, mention of the assault weapon and ammunition was excluded.

2004 Gamache v. Allen, 268 Va. 222, 601 S.E.2d 598.
In this medical malpractice action, plaintiff sought to introduce evidence that his attempted suicide was a result of the malpractice of the defendants. Defendants sought to introduce evidence that plaintiff’s wife used narcotics and attempted self-mutilation and that these were in fact causes of the plaintiff’s attempted suicide. Evidence that is relevant may be excluded from trial if the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. In this case, the trial court abused its discretion in excluding that evidence.

2003 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Wade, 265 Va. 383, 579 S.E.2d 180.
In this personal injury action, plaintiff sought to bifurcate compensatory damage claims from punitive damage claims on theory that evidence relating to punitive damages would improperly influence jury in regards to compensatory award. Considerations of bifurcation are much the same as consolidation and court must consider whether or not there is prejudice to rights of any party, any resulting unnecessary delay, expense, or use of judicial resources. Such decisions are in the sound discretion of the trial court. No abuse or discretion in this instance. Plaintiff objected during course of trial that court should have given jury clear and explicit instruction regarding which portion of plaintiff’s testimony was to be considered regarding punitive damages only. Such instruction was not necessary and that is not justification for bifurcation.

2003 Brugh v. Jones, 265 Va. 136, 574 S.E.2d 282.
In this auto accident case, trial court improperly refused to admit evidence that defendant abruptly left the scene of the accident. In this case, defendant admitted liability. Defendant offered evidence that his automobile was not damaged and had not been repaired and as such, he placed into issue the reliability of the evidence offered and his own credibility on the matter. Plaintiff sought to admit evidence of defendant leaving the scene on theory that precluded immediate examination of the vehicle by plaintiff. Evidence was presented that the defendant did work in a body shop. As such, evidence of the defendant leaving the scene was relevant for purposes of impeachment and further, was relevant on rebuttal because condition of defendant’s vehicle had been placed into issued by photographic evidence and by his testimony. In a civil case involving introduction of evidence of conduct that may have been unlawful, trial court has responsibility of weighing the probative value of the evidence on this issue against its possible prejudicial effect. In this case, the evidence should have been admitted.

2003 Velocity Express Mid-Atlantic v. Hugen, 266 Va. 188, 585 S.E.2d 557.
Every fact, however remote or insignificant, that tends to establish the probability or improbability of a fact in issue is of relevancy. In this case, prior cocaine usage of plaintiff was not relevant because there was no evidence to suggest that it was a cause of plaintiff’s brain damage.

1999 Breeden v. Roberts, 258 Va. 411, 518 S.E.2d 834.
In this auto accident case, plaintiff was cross-examined as to whether he had ever made prior statement about how much money he was going to get out of this lawsuit. Plaintiff denied making statement. No objection was made to those questions. Because that foundation had been laid, it was proper to impeach plaintiff on that issue even though this witness had not been previously disclosed. Testimony is of relevancy and should be considered if, when considered in relation to other evidence, it tends to establish party’s claim or defense or adds force and strength to other evidence bearing on issue in case.

1999 Virginia Elec. & Power Co. v. Dungee, 258 Va. 235, 520 S.E.2d 164.
Relevancy. Minor plaintiff crawled through hole in fence to get into electrical sub-station. Plaintiff at trial offered pictures of fence showing that hole and others. Trial court properly allowed admission of photographs with cautionary instruction that these photographs do not portray site of entry but they portray general appearance of entire fence line and jury is to consider them for that purpose only. No error.

1992 Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Watson, 243 Va. 128, 413 S.E.2d 630.
Every fact, however remote or insignificant, which tends to establish the probability or improbability of fact in issue is of relevancy.

1987 Harrell v. Woodson, 233 Va. 117, 353 S.E.2d 770.
Every fact, however remote or insignificant, that tends to establish probability or improbability of fact in issue is of relevancy and if otherwise admissible should be admitted. Evidence at issue in this auto accident case was defendant’s preaccident conduct which may have shown his motivation for stopping suddenly on roadway.

1986 Gray v. Graham, 231 Va. 1, 341 S.E.2d 153.
Assessment of prejudicial effect of evidence against its probative value is matter largely within discretion of judge.

1983 Hogan v. Carter, 226 Va. 361, 310 S.E.2d 666.
Evidence of excessive speed at one place on highway is not sufficient, standing alone, to justify inference of excessive speed at another place. Court has, however, never held that this rule is absolute or that proof of speed at moment of impact must be conclusive.

1983 Horn v. Milgrim, 226 Va. 133, 306 S.E.2d 893.
Any fact, however remote, that tends to establish probability or improbability of fact in issue is admissible. Witness testified that car identical to one involved in crash had passed him short distance before accident. That vehicle was speeding and was in middle of road about one minute before crash. This evidence was held to be admissible.

1981 Peacock Buick, Inc. v. Durkin, 221 Va. 1133, 277 S.E.2d 225.
Conversion suit against automobile dealer for alleged fraudulent practices known as low balling, high balling and bumping. Testimony as to these practices was of relevancy as to whether defendant’s conduct was consistent with these practices.

1966 Stevens v. Summers, 207 Va. 320, 150 S.E.2d 83.
Where there is logical connection between fact offered as evidence and fact in issue that proof of former tends to make latter more probable or improbable, testimony is of relevancy if not too remote.

1962 Eubank v. Spencer, 203 Va. 923, 128 S.E.2d 299.
Where liability is admitted, force of impact and surrounding circumstances may be of relevancy to extent of injuries.

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Relevancy Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

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