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Florida Fifth DCA rules that trial court erred in excluding plaintiff’s statement to medical personnel about circumstances of motor vehicle accident

On June 21, 2019, in Strong v. Underwood, No. 5D17-3586, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a jury verdict in a motor vehicle negligence case in which the defendant and the plaintiff had each been found 50% at fault for the accident.  The Fifth DCA concluded that the trial court erroneously excluded evidence of a statement made by plaintiff to medical personnel admitting that the accident occurred after one of the tires on her motorcycle blew out.  The statement allegedly was made the day after the accident while the plaintiff was being examined by her treating physician and other medical personnel. Although the treating physician memorialized the statement in the medical records, at a pretrial deposition he indicated that he could not recall whether the statement was made to him or one of several other medical personnel on his trauma team. The trial court consequently excluded the statement as inadmissible hearsay, finding the source of the statement was unknown.  The Fifth DCA concluded that the statement should have been admitted as an admission by a party-opponent contained in an otherwise admissible business record.  Regarding the latter issue, the applicability of the business records exception, the Fifth DCA pointed out that irrespective of which member of the trauma team took the statement, the physician who prepared the medical record did so “from information transmitted by a person with knowledge of the statement,” as required by Fla. R. Evid. § 80.803(6).   

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