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Determining whether evidence is relevant

In many Nevada personal injury cases, the rules of evidence can have a substantial impact on a court’s final decision. The relevancy of evidence is an issue that is commonly debated in court, and both the Federal Rules of Evidence and Nevada state statutes address this topic specifically.  

According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, the Federal Rules of Evidence defines relevant evidencein Rule 401. This rule states that evidence which is important to a legal claim and tends to show whether a fact is probable will be considered relevant. This definition is echoed by Nevada’s rules on evidence for state courts, which can be found in chapter 48 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.  

If a piece of evidence is determined to be relevant, it will be generally admissible. However, even relevant evidence may be excluded under the provisions of FRE 403 or NRS 48.035. According to Nevada law, evidence that is deemed relevant may still be inadmissible if its use could result in unfair prejudice, mislead the jury or confuse the issues. FRE 403 includes these provisions, but will also exclude evidence that would waste time, cause undue delays or present unnecessary cumulative evidence.

As explained by the Advisory Committee Notes for FRE 401, relevancy issues do not always fall into predictable patterns. While the rules on relevancy do attempt to create a structure for commonly occurring evidentiary situations, case-by-case analyses will often be required.

While the FRE and Nevada statutes take essentially the same stance on relevance, it is important to note that these two sets of rules do not coincide this way for every evidentiary issue. 

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