In the complex world of medical malpractice and dental malpractice litigation, understanding the intricacies of various legal concepts and procedures specific to malpractice statutes can be a daunting task. One such concept is the "unsworn statement" in Florida medical malpractice and dental malpractice cases. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the unsworn statement, its purpose, and how it can impact the outcome of a malpractice case in Florida.
What is an Unsworn Statement?
An unsworn statement is a testimony provided by a party in the presuit period of a Florida medical malpractice or dental malpractice case that is done without the requirement of swearing an oath or providing an affirmation. While not as credible as sworn statements, unsworn statements can still play a vital role in the exchange of information during the presuit discovery process. Overall, unsworn statements are less formal than a deposition and typically used by the parties to get a feel for the case rather than to gather evidence that can be used later on at trial.
What is the Purpose of an Unsworn Statement?
The primary purpose of an unsworn statement is to provide a less formal means for parties or witnesses to share information during the presuit discovery phase without the strict requirements of providing sworn testimony. As we will discuss more below, this sharing of information could help speed up negotiations and avoid trial, which could help the parties save time and money. More importantly, if the parties can avoid litigation and trial, it helps our already burdened court system avoid unnecessary work and effort.
Florida Statute Section 766.106 & Presuit Screening
In Florida, unsworn statements are permitted under Florida Statute Section 766.106, which provides the following:
Unsworn statements. Any party may require other parties to appear for the taking of an unsworn statement. Such statements may be used only for the purpose of presuit screening and are not discoverable or admissible in any civil action for any purpose by any party. A party desiring to take the unsworn statement of any party must give reasonable notice in writing to all parties. The notice must state the time and place for taking the statement and the name and address of the party to be examined. Unless otherwise impractical, the examination of any party must be done at the same time by all other parties. Any party may be represented by counsel at the taking of an unsworn statement. An unsworn statement may be recorded electronically, stenographically, or on videotape. The taking of unsworn statements is subject to the provisions of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and may be terminated for abuses.
- Florida Statute Section 766.106(6)(b)(1).
The Role of Unsworn Statements in Medical Malpractice Cases
Unsworn statements are used for the purpose of presuit screening and are not discoverable or admissible in a subsequent lawsuit for any purpose by either party. The parties may be represented by an attorney during the unsworn statement, and the taking of unsworn statements is subject to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.310(d). Thus, an unsworn statement may be terminated for abuses. These types of abuses could serve as evidence of the abusing party’s failure to comply with the good faith requirements of the act.
The Impact of Unsworn Statements on the Outcome of a Case
While unsworn statements can be useful in gathering and sharing information, their impact on the outcome of a medical malpractice or dental malpractice case in Florida can be limited due to the following reasons:
- Less Credibility: Since unsworn statements are not given under oath, they are generally considered less credible than sworn testimony. As a result, the court and jury may give less weight to unsworn statements when evaluating the evidence and determining the outcome of the case.
- Admissibility Issues: Unsworn statements may not be admissible as evidence at trial due to various reasons, such as hearsay rules, lack of authentication, or other legal requirements. Consequently, parties could have a hard time if their arguments are based solely on unsworn statements.
- No Cross-Examination: One of the key benefits of sworn testimony is the opportunity for cross-examination, which allows the opposing party to question the witness and test the veracity of their statements. Without a cross examination to clarify or to tease out details, unsworn statements are generally considered less reliable than sworn statements.
Best Practices for Using Unsworn Statements in Medical Malpractice Cases
Despite their limitations, unsworn statements can still play a valuable role in medical malpractice or dental malpractice cases. Here are some ways unworn statements may be incorporated into a medical malpractice case in Florida:
Unsworn Statements Can Supplement Sworn Testimony
While unsworn statements should not replace sworn testimony, they can serve as a useful supplement in a medical malpractice or dental malpractice case. For example, unsworn statements may provide additional details and context for sworn testimony taken later on in the case, during the discovery phase of litigation.
Unsworn Statements Can Provide Accuracy and Reliability
Consistent and truthful testimony is hard to argue with. Although unsworn statements are not given under oath, they can nevertheless prove veracity and truthfulness. Thus, even though the testimony is unsworn, it is still crucial to ensure that the information provided to the other side is accurate, reliable, and consistent. Hence, good practice is to double-check facts, verify information, and provide accurate and truthful information to ensure that a case is built on solid ground. The truth is the most valuable tool in our cases.
Unsworn Statements Can Help with Settlement Negotiations
Unsworn statements can be particularly helpful in facilitating settlement negotiations by providing insight into how a person might tell his or her story to a jury. If the story is compelling, it could help to encourage the opposing party to consider a fair settlement offer rather than dragging the case to court. Accordingly, unsworn statements may bolster a party’s negotiation position and potentially help to resolve the case without going to trial.
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Dental Malpractice Lawyer or Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Orlando, Florida?
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of medical or dental malpractice, you should speak with an Orlando, Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on our website, or you can call our Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm today at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free consultation by phone.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’ve been injured in the Southeast, we have you covered. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need us.For more information on personal injury cases in general, you can download our free personal injury guide: P.I. 101: Your Quick Guide to Personal Injury Claims.