The Police Report says it was my fault. Do I still have a case?

 

A:

The first thing to understand is how the police report is used.  The police report is not admissible in evidence at a trial.  It is hearsay.  It does, however, give the attorneys some of the information that the police officer gathered at the scene of the accident when conducting his investigation.  From that information, the attorneys (for both sides) can reconstruct how the accident happened and whose fault it was.  The police report is also used by insurance companies to help them determine how the accident happened.  Thus, if the police report indicates that the accident was your fault, the defense attorney and the insurance company that employs him, will make up their minds that the accident was your fault and will not offer to pay for your damages (or offer very little).  

 

What must be remembered, however, is that the police report are not the final word regarding fault.  The Scott Ray Law Firm was recently contacted by an individual injured in an automobile crash where the police report indicated that our client was at fault because one of his taillights was not working.  A closer look at what happened revealed that the driver that rear-ended our client was not looking where he was going when the crash occurred.  Thus, whether the taillight was working or not was not relevant since the at-fault driver wasn’t even looking ahead, so he would not have seen the taillight had it been working.  In addition, the police officer formulated his opinion that the taillight wasn’t working based on the fact that it was not working after the accident—after the car had been rammed from behind.  It is very likely that the taillight was working before the accident but the force of the impact broke the filament in the brake light, which is why it didn’t work after the accident.  The police report’s conclusion regarding fault was not accurate.

 

The bottom line is that all of the facts of an automobile accident must be evaluated by competent, qualified individuals.  Just looking at the police report is not always going to give you the true cause of the crash.