Sworn statements are written statements that are offered by a party in a lawsuit. The statement is generally followed by a paragraph wherein the person attests that the information is true. They will usually sign and date the paragraph, which is known as an “endorsement paragraph.”
Due to the endorsement paragraph, the statement can be considered as being “made under penalty of perjury.” This means that the person may be found guilty of perjury in court if the statement is relied upon during trial, but later found to be untrue. Without the endorsement paragraph, the document is considered to only be a “statement”, and may be considered less reliable as evidence.
Sworn statements are very similar to another class of court documents called “affidavits”. Affidavits contain similar statements and claims, but have been signed, witnessed, and certified by a public official. This official is usually a notary public or a court official. The certification makes the document even more acceptable as a form of evidence.
In most cases, both affidavits and sworn statements can be entered as evidence in a trial. For instance, in a personal injury case, the court may admit an affidavit wherein the plaintiff states that they had a previous neck injury prior to a car accident. However, most courts would prefer to enter in an affidavit rather than a sworn statement.
On the other hand, the process of having a statement certified and signed by a notary public or court official can be time-consuming. Many courts are recognizing this and are treating sworn statements in a very similar manner to affidavits.
In many personal injury cases (and some criminal cases), an affidavit can actually be used when a witness cannot appear in court. For instance, if the witness is incapacitated, or is located too far away. Or, the person might fear retaliation from another participant in the case if they testify in court.
In such cases, the court may allow the person to submit an affidavit rather than appear in court. Again, some jurisdictions may prefer affidavits over sworn statements, but this may depend on the case and the facts involved in the lawsuit.
Sworn statements and affidavits are very important aspects of any trial. You may need to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer if you have any concerns or issues regarding statements in a trial. Your attorney can advise you on your rights and options with regards to statements and evidence. State laws can be very different regarding the matters, but your attorney can advise you on how the laws might affect your case.