Are text messages legitimate proof of wrongdoing?

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Are text messages legitimate proof of wrongdoing?

About a year ago there was an incident that occurred wherein I placed a few small dents on someone’s car. After having a guilty conscience I told this person I did it and that I would pay for the damages. No police report was filed and there is no proof that I did it except for text messages saying that I did. If I were to change my mind about paying, could this go to court? Are text messages enough evidence? Since the incident occurred about a year ago who’s to say that more dents weren’t added throughout the year? I would not want to pay for something that I didn’t do.

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The text messages would be powerful proof of your fault, since they are "admissions against interest" by you--that is, they are a type of evidence that is commonly regarded as reliable, since it is a person's statements against his or her own economic self-interest.

The messages only do not guaranty you'd have to pay--it might be possible to show that they were simply the product of hysteria or mistake and you were not responsible for the damage--but they definitely hurt your case. Most lawyers would probably recommend that even if you don't want to pay the full amount, that if the other driver or his/her insurer comes after you, that you at least offer to pay something and try to settle, rather than seek to deny all liability when you've already admitted fault to the other party in writing.


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