What Role Does The Car Accident Police Report Play In Determining Who Was At-Fault For Accident?

The information in the police report is studied by the insurance companies, lawyers, judges and juries. Those involved in the reported accident can ask about amending or adding to the report’s facts.

Which of the report’s facts are of greatest interest to those that study that same document/report?

• Details on damage to the involved vehicles
• The stated cause for the accident
• Details on the injuries sustained by the drivers and any passengers

What happens if no police officers appear on the scene, and no report gets compiled?

In that case, those that were involved in the accident have the right to compile their own version of the facts, as those relate to the accident. Their version of the facts could then become one of the filed documents at the appropriate DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

If each party compiled its own version of the accident, the DMV would have 2 different documents to give to any insurance companies, lawyers, judges or juries.

What sort of information would the police officers put in each of their reports?

• The accident’s time and location; the date for that same incident
• The weather conditions
• The traffic conditions
• Mention of whether or not a 911 call had been made
• It could mention the road and/or lighting conditions.
• The names of the involved drivers
• The nature of the damage on the involved vehicles
• Mention of any citations that might have been issued
• Some reports contain a diagram of the spot where the vehicles collided.

Some reports contain the officer’s observations, regarding who appeared to be at-fault.

—Those that study the reported observations do not have to agree with them.
—If those involved in the accident had compiled their own report, there would be no clues, regarding whom a police officer might name as the at-fault party.

What aspect of the reported information would limit that ways that it could be used?

Judges view all of a given report’s contents as hearsay. The arriving officers did not see the accident; each of them simply recorded what the drivers or witnesses told them. The personal injury lawyer in Bradford know that for that reason, the police report has only a limited part in determining who should be named as the at-fault party.

Police reports are never used as evidence in a courtroom. Still, any one of them could sway the thinking of an insurance adjuster, during the period of pre-trial negotiations. Yet a lawyer’s comment could also have an affect on that thinking.

There are no rules, regarding the interpretation of any report’s contents. For that reason, no expert in personal injury law could say for sure exactly how a police report might affect an insurance company’s determination of the at-fault party in a given accident.

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