Can You Use A Police Report In Your Car Accident Trial?
When you are in a car accident, the first person that will be on site to evaluate the accident and make an initial determination of fault will probably be the police officer investigating the accident. The police officer will draw up a police report, with details about how the accident happened. The report will contain the officer’s finding on who was responsible for the accident.
Using the Police Report in Trial
If you are in that accident, and there is a dispute about who was responsible for causing that accident, the first thing you may want to do is get the police report, especially if the police said at the scene of the accident that the other driver and not you was responsible for the accident.
Certainly, police reports are valuable, and can be used by your attorney, and will be looked at by the Defendant or his or her insurance company. However, you may be surprised to know that should your case go all the way to trial, you actually will not be allowed to present that police report as evidence in your case. That’s because police reports are inadmissible as evidence in trial.
This may seem odd to you—after all, the police are reputable, they were there on site, and did an investigation—why wouldn’t a jury be allowed to see what the police report says?
The answer is because people tend to give what a police officer says great weight—almost, too much weight, for the purposes of an injury case.
The law is concerned that the police is not an investigator, likely didn’t see the accident, and only did a cursory examination of the accident before writing the report. Yet, it is likely that the jury will treat whatever is in the police report, as if it was a determined, conclusive fact, which it is not.
The police report also is hearsay, the same way any statement or writing made out of court would be.
The Police Report is Still Useful
Mind you that just because a police report is not admissible, doesn’t mean that the police officer investigating the accident can’t be deposed, or called to the stand to testify in your injury trial. Practically, the officer may not remember the details of your particular accident by the time it comes time for him or her to testify, but they can testify nonetheless, and they can look at their police report, to refresh their memory of your accident.
Police reports also can be used to identify witnesses, get insurance information, and sometimes, to help other witnesses remember what happened at the accident. The insurance company also will look at the police report, in making a settlement offer to you.
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today to answer questions about what you can expect in your injury case.