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Direct Evidence

Definition - What does Direct Evidence mean?

Direct evidence in a civil case is any evidence which, if believed, automatically resolves the issue of the civil claim or proves a fact sought to be established by a party to a lawsuit. Direct evidence can include eye witness testimony from someone who saw the injurious action of the defendant. It also can include documents.

Direct evidence varies from circumstantial evidence which requires the court to make inferences about the existence of a fact. For instance, if a driver witnesses someone hitting another car after running a red light they can give direct evidence about what they saw. If the driver simply drives up after a car accident and sees a two damaged cars they are not an eye witness and cannot provide direct evidence about the collision.

Direct evidence and indirect evidence are both allowed at a civil trial and are treated equally.

Submitting Direct Evidence

Direct evidence can be admitted into a case if the court deems it relevant. Generally, this means the evidence has "the tendency to make the existence of a material fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence."

Direct evidence must also relate to the person, time, and event which are currently in question. Exceptions exist if the court determines the evidence proves cause and effect; shows a common plan or scheme of fraud; shows instrumentality; helps infer intent from prior conduct; rebuts impossibility; or establishes value.

At other times direct evidence can be excluded at the judge's discretion when they decide it wastes time, it is misleading, it causes a delay, it is confusing, or it would unfairly prejudice the jury. Exclusions are allowed for other reasons which should be discussed with a personal injury lawyer.

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