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Evidence

Presenting Evidence at Trial

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During the trial, the court will receive evidence submitted by the plaintiff and defendant. Both sides will present evidence to try to support the facts of their case. There are many things that can be submitted as evidence. Generally evidence is broken down into two categories:

  1. Documents
  2. Witnesses

Documents

Some examples of document evidence include contracts, receipts, public records, authenticated business records, market data reports, photographs, and other tangible items (anything you can hold or touch). Written estimates of value or repair costs are admissible as evidence to measure monetary loss.  It is best to have at least two written estimates of repair costs for the court to consider.

The court keeps any original documents submitted as evidence. If you are going to submit documents or copies of documents, these must be served on the other party before trial. At trial you need to bring:

  • The original document
  • A copy for each party in the case
  • A copy for your own records

Each document or item of evidence which you would like to submit to the court should be marked with an exhibit number or letter before you arrive at your trial. Make a numbered list of all your exhibits and beside each one, write a short note about why this evidence is important.

Witnesses

Find witnesses who will be able to testify and ask them to come to court on the day of your trial. If witnesses are not willing to testify, you can have them subpoenaed.  To obtain a subpoena to compel a witness to come to court, you must complete a form provided by the Clerk of Court at least 7 days before trial and pay a fling fee of $25.00 per defendant plus $6.00 per witness for witness’ fees.

If you are going to ask a witness to testify, your witness must have first-hand knowledge of the facts. Written or recorded statements from witnesses who are not present at trial are considered hearsay evidence, which is not admissible and cannot be considered by the judge or jury.

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A subpoena is a court document that orders a witness to appear at your court date. Subpoenas are used to make witnesses appear in court. The plaintiff and defendant can file subpoenas to call witnesses to testify. If a witness is willing to appear voluntarily, you may not need a subpoena.

File a subpoena at least 7 days before the trial with the clerk of court.  The filing party should provide the original subpoena to the court and a copy of the subpoena to the witness. You can download a subpoena form from the Forms Page.

There is a $25.00 fee to file a subpoena. This amount includes the cost of delivering the subpoena to the witness and to pay the witness for coming to court. The subpoena must be completed, paid for, and filed with the court at least 7 days before trial.

The witness is to be reimbursed $0.55 cents per mile for round trip travel as well as $6.00 for a half day in court and $12.00 for a full day in court. When the witness appears in court have him or her get the subpoena signed by the courtroom bailiff to determine how much the witness will get paid. After the subpoena is signed, the witness should take the signed subpoena to the clerk of court’s office.  After the subpoena is processed, the witness will be mailed a check for the witness fee plus mileage, if applicable.

Evidence for Motor Vehicle Claims

In cases that involve motor vehicle damages, the plaintiff must prove that he or she is the owner or the person leasing the damaged vehicle.  Proof includes:

  1. A valid certificate of a title or the original lease agreement.
  2. An agreement by all parties in court about who owns the vehicle. The agreement must state that vehicle ownership is not in dispute.

There are a few ways to prove a financial loss in court:

  1. At least two estimates of repair
  2. A receipted repair bill
  3. Testimony from an expert in collision repair 

Eyewitnesses who saw the damage occur or expert witnesses such as a police officer or a collision repair expert may be subpoenaed and required to testify.