This article is an extract from Episode 04 of the Ask The Hammer podcast, in which I answered popular questions about police reports and car accidents. I also discussed what a police report contains and your options for getting it.
Why Does It Matter To Get a Police Report in the Legal Process?
The police report is the most critical thing after an accident.
When you have an accident, the police are called to investigate.
A police officer’s job is to examine and determine what happened, whether there’s alcohol involved or if somebody did something illegal.
It also gives credibility to the accident. If you don’t have a police report, it might be your word against theirs, and insurance companies may need to know who to believe.
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What Should I Be Aware of When Interacting With Involved Drivers and Police Officers?
Never make any admissions if you’re not sure. Most of the time, people know if they’re at fault.
Hypothetically, there are a lot of duties that go with driving.
Let’s say another car was speeding, but you weren’t paying attention. You might be partially at fault. So, I suggest you answer the police officer’s questions but don’t volunteer any more information.
One time we had a case where a person took evasive action because he didn’t want to hit a deer. But when he did, he went in someone else’s lane. So even though he took evasive action, he ended up at fault and didn’t realize it.
So my advice is don’t volunteer anything.
What Happens if You Are in an Accident and You’ve Sustained Minor Injuries, but the Police Have Not Come to the Scene?
The police officers mostly won’t come to private property, but they will if its public property.
Private Property Example:
If somebody is in a car accident in a mall’s parking lot, get as much information and witnesses as possible.
While a police report itself probably will not be admissible in civil court proceedings, it can go a long way toward gaining negotiation leverage in any personal injury dispute.
It’s true. Police list witness names and numbers and what a witness says. If the witness says something different, you can call the police officer. Of course, there are ways to get it.
For example, the court may not just say a police officer’s opinion is prima facie evidence of someone’s negligence.
So it is essential, but it’s not the end all.
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Can Anyone Obtain a Police Report on Behalf of a Victim? Are They Available to the Public?
If you have the pertinent information, date of birth, or social security number, you can get it. It is a public record, so it is discoverable. But you may have to have some crucial information to get it.
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How Does a Lawyer Go About Getting a Police Report?
We go to this website, BuyCrash.com, and buy the police report. Then, we get all the pertinent information when people come to us.
Are You Dealing With the Police Department and Officers Regularly as a Personal Injury Attorney?
Yes, we get police reports all the time.
A lot of times, the police need to take their statements. But, sometimes, if the other side admits being at fault right away, the insurance company might throw in the towel.
What Is the Role of a Lawyer in Police Problem-Solving?
Let’s say you have a client that had a horrible accident, but they had something in the car that could be damaging, like marijuana.
So you want to talk to the police officer and find out what they found. You have to take the good with the bad. You want to know what is going to be said or what’s going to happen.
How Does an Attorney Interact With the Police?
Suppose we get a nice case and want to lock down. We may bring in the police officer or take their deposition and find out what they will say.
You’re allowed to pay them for their time and expense.
How Does the Interaction Develop As You Go Through the Legal Process, a Lawsuit, and Even to Court?
They come in and give testimony. They might tell you one thing in a meeting and say something different in court. That’s why the best thing in the world is to lock them down and get a sworn statement.
We type their statement and get them to sign it. So if they change the testimony later, we will have something to show.
If My Police Report Looks Incorrect, Can I Contest It?
Yes, you can undoubtedly contest it. However, you may not change a police officer’s mind. It doesn’t necessarily mean it kills your case. It certainly may not help.
So then, with our client, we would bring in their testimony, which may differ from the actual police report. Or we could hire our accident reconstructionist and determine the facts that way.
How Does an Accident Reconstructionist Work?
Sometimes police officers go and make a quick observation, but they could be wrong. So the accident deconstructionist would come, take measurements and pictures, and maybe look at skid marks.
You might have to pay for an act of reconstruction about $2000 or $3000. It warrants it in a massive case. But, in a small case, it may not.
Are There Codes of Conduct Expected When Interacting and Speaking With a Police Officer?
They’re not required, but you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It would do you well to respect the authority and the police. It might help your case.
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