Dead Person’s Statute Law and Legal Definition

A dead person’s statute is a legal rule of evidence prohibiting the admission of a decedent’s statement as evidence in certain circumstances. For example, in cases where an opposing party or witness seeks to use the statement to support a claim against the decedent’s estate. It is also known as dead man’s statute.

This statute restricts an interested party from testifying about a communication or transaction with a decedent in a civil suit which involves the decedent's personal representative. The statute is designed to prevent perjury.

The following is an example of a case law referring to the Dead Person's Statutes:

The theory animating the Dead Person's Statutes is that a litigant who testifies about what an adverse party's decedent said is so inherently unreliable that he or she per se is not qualified to testify about those statements. [Donovan v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 849 F. Supp. 86 (D. Mass. 1994)].