If you are injured in a car accident in Los Angeles, CA one of the most important things you can do is to request that the responding officer complete a police report. The report, which may also be referred to as a Traffic Collision Report, can be a great source of information for an attorney if you decide to pursue a claim for damages. The report will provide a “snapshot” of your accident and help to preserve details that may be lost or forgotten down the line.
The more information you attorney has, the greater your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve. Since police reports are generated by an unbiased third-party, attorneys can generally rely on the information they contain. If you have been injured in a California car accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
Police Reports Will Reflect Information That You May Not Remember
Why are attorneys so interested in reviewing the police report that was generated by the officer(s) who responded to your accident? The reason is simple: a police report can capture details, information, and facts that may not be available when you eventually decide to pursue a claim for damages from an at-fault party. Here’s an example: let’s say you were involved in a car accident three months ago. At first, you weren’t interested in fighting with an insurance company over a settlement to cover the costs of property damage and medical bills.
If, three months later, you change your mind, you may not be able to recall details that could be vital to your case. What was the weather like? Was there construction that may have contributed to the accident? Did the other driver receive a ticket for breaking a traffic law? These aren’t necessarily things that you would remember – at least vividly – three months after an accident. This is especially true if you were severely injured or overwhelmed by the accident. A police report can capture these (and other) important details and preserve them for future claims.
Information A Police Report May Contain
There is no hard and fast rule about what must be contained in a Traffic Collision Report. However, at the very least, a Traffic Collision Report will probably contain the names, contact information, and insurance information of the parties involved in an accident. You can request for certain information to be recorded in the police report. Information that may be included in a Traffic Collision Report includes:
- The time and date of the accident;
- The specific location of the accident, including mile markers or cross-streets;
- Road conditions;
- Weather conditions at the time of the accident;
- Traffic conditions, including nearby construction and other traffic incidents;
- Names and contact information of witnesses;
- Details about the damage to personal and public property;
- Statements from witnesses and/or involved parties;
- Photographs and/or diagrams;
- Tickets given to involved parties;
- An officer’s determination(s) of fault; and
- Other pertinent information.
Police Reports Not Admissible As Evidence In Court
Why should you bother to request a police report if it will not be admissible in court? While the report itself is inadmissible hearsay, the information it may contain can allow your attorney to (a) get an idea of what happened and (b) gather information that will be helpful in conducting an independent information. The police report can point your attorney in the right direction.
Why are police reports inadmissible? They are considered to be inadmissible hearsay. Hearsay is an out of court statement (in this case, the police report) that is used to prove the truth of a matter asserted in court (for example, the officer’s preliminary determination of fault). These statements are often difficult to corroborate.
Since police reports may include both facts and opinions, they may not be used as evidence in California courts. However, personal injury attorneys are not prohibited from using police reports as (a) a source of information and (b) as persuasive evidence in private negotiations with an at-fault party or insurance company.
How Will An Attorney Use a Police Report?
We’ve discussed the information that may be contained in a police report. Now we will discuss what an experienced personal injury attorney may do with that information. An independent investigation into an accident can be crucial to a successful case. An investigation – based in part on the information provided in the police report – can help to shed new light on an accident and perhaps uncover new information.
A police report can help an attorney to determine liability, determine potential third party liability, locate witnesses, analyze the accident, determine which experts may be helpful, and leverage at-fault parties and/or insurance companies into a handsome settlement.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. An attorney can get quite creative in how he or she uses the information contained in a police report. The more information your attorney has to work with, the greater your chances of a successful outcome.
If you are involved in a California traffic accident, be sure to request a Traffic Collision Report. Your memory may fade with time. A police report can help to fill in the details you may forget.
Have you been involved in a California car accident? Contact our office today to learn about how we may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Call us today to find out more.