Many people are unsure whether or not they are required to call the police when they have been involved in a personal injury accident. State laws differ as to when it is a legal requirement to call the police but even when it is not a legal requirement it is generally a good idea. Police reports are frequently used as evidence in a personal injury accident trial. Having said that, a personal injury accident victim should also understand that a police report is not necessarily decisive on the issue of negligence or blame in the accident. A victim should understand the benefits and the limits of information contained in a police report.
Among the reason why is it is a goof idea to call the police to the scene of a personal injury accident is that it creates an official record of the accident. By having a law enforcement officer document the accident, you have an official government document that states the date, time and location of the accident. Additionally, a police report can provide critical witness information that can be used by the plaintiff. Understandably, many people do not think to get names and contact information from any potential witnesses at the scene of an accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, a victim may not even be capable of gathering witness information at the scene. A police report, however, may contain the names and contact information that the plaintiff needs later on in the litigation process. For these reasons, a police report can be a valuable source of information and potential evidence at a trial.
While a police report can be helpful, it cannot determine negligence or blame for the accident. State accident reports will vary as to what information is included, however most reports will include a narrative by the law enforcement officer that created the report as well as indicate whether anyone was cited for a traffic violation or arrested for a crime. Many plaintiffs are under the impression that if the police report indicates that they were responsible for the accident that they cannot refute the report. As a rule, that is not the case. A police officer is not a judge or jury. A police report can be introduced as evidence during a trial, but anything mentioned in the report can certainly be disputed or outright denied at trial. A law enforcement officer making a report bases his narrative on the information she is given at the scene of the accident. Many times, the information she receives is incomplete or even incorrect. Additionally, just because one of the people involved in an accident is cited for a violation does not, in an of itself, make that person negligent or responsible for the accident. In many states, such as California, negligence can be shared by more than one person involved in the accident. As such, even the issuance of a ticket to one of the parties for something that does actually amount to negligence could leave room for another party to be more at fault.
Police reports should be looked at as one possible piece to the personal injury accident puzzle. They can also be an invaluable source of information at times. It is important, however, to remember that they are not the entire puzzle and they are not considered definitive proof of negligence.
If you have any additional questions, please contact California personal injury attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit the firm’s website at www.ledgerlaw.com.
Many people are unsure whether or not they are required to call the police when they have been involved in an accident. State laws differ as to when it is a legal requirement to call the police but even when it is not a legal requirement it is generally a good idea. Police reports are frequently used as evidence in a personal injury accident trial. Having said that, a personal injury accident victim should also understand that a police report I snot necessarily decisive on the issue of neglig