As a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I often need to get business
records into evidence. For example, in a Georgia car accident case, I
might need to get the car accident report into evidence. In a case where
someone was hurt in a trucking accident in Georgia, I might need to submit
the truck’s log books into evidence. In a
Georgia product liability case, I might need to submit the manufacturer’s production records in
evidence. In any type of personal injury lawsuit, I will want to submit
my client’s medical records and bills into evidence to show the
damages my client suffered and the cost of themedical care they received as a result of their injuries.
In each of these instances, I am trying to get a company (or municipality’s)
business records into evidence. These types of records are important evidence in any
Georgia personal injury case, and the courts obviously need and want to receive these types of documents
into evidence. At the same time, these records come from large corporations
or governmental entities. When I need to get my personal injury client’s
tax records into evidence, that is an easy process. I put my client on
the stand and say, “What are these documents?” “These
are my tax returns.” But how do you put a corporation on the stand,
or a hospital, or a city? And if no one comes to court and says “these
are documents from our company, and they are authentic”, then how
does the court know the documents are real and should be admitted?
Georgia law has worked out a special provision to allow business records
to be admitted at trial. A document is admissible as a “business
(1) The document is a writing or record. The document can be in the form
of an entry in a book, but it does not have to be.
(2) The document was “made as a memorandum or record of any act,
transaction, occurrence, or event.”
(3) The document “was made in the regular course of business.”
(4) “It was the regular course of such business to make the memorandum
(5) The record was made “at the time of the act, transaction, occurrence,
or event or within a reasonable time thereafter.”
Georgia law has a special provision for admitting records of cities (municipal
corporations). City records and minutes of the city’s meetings are
admissible “when certified under seal by the clerks or keepers of
such records.” O.C.G.A. § 24-7-21. The rule is quite practical.
If every time an
Atlanta lawyer handling car accident cases needed to get a municipal code provision into evidence, the lawyer had
to haul in the City records keeper, the records keeper would not have
time to keep the records.
Georgia law also has a code section that addresses records from the Department
of Public Safety or the Department of Driver Services, “or comparable
agencies in other states.” As with the municipal records, the court
can admit those records so long as they are certified. Again, the provision
prevents a situation where a city employee must become so involved in
authenticating records that he or she has no time to do the regular job.
The Georgia Code has another special provision that applies to medical
O.C.G.A. § 24-3-18.