Admissibility of Accident Reports in Jury Trials

In an opinion (Joines v. Moffitt) issued this morning by the NC Court of Appeals, the Court set forth an interesting discusssion of the admissibility of accident/crash reports in jury trials involving auto accidents.

The complete opinion can be found at:
http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/. The pertinent portion is quoted below:
…….”Hearsay is “a statement, other than one made by the
declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in
evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” N.C. R.
Evid. 801(c). Although hearsay is generally inadmissible,
records of regularly conducted business activities are
admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule under Rule 803 of
the North Carolina Rules of Evidence. N.C. R. Evid. 803(6).
This Court has held that highway accident reports may be
admitted under Rule 803(6) if properly authenticated. Wentz v.
Unifi, Inc., 89 N.C. App. 33, 39, 365 S.E.2d 198, 201 (1988).
Proper authentication requires a showing that the report was (1)
“prepared at or near the time of the act(s) reported”; (2)
prepared “by or from information transmitted by a person with
knowledge of the act(s)”; and (3) “kept in the course of a
regularly conducted business activity, with such being a regular
practice of that business activity.” Id. If a document meets
these criteria, it is admissible unless the circumstances
surrounding the preparation of the report “indicate a lack of
trustworthiness.” N.C. R. Evid. 803(6).”……