Victims who are injured due to the negligence and fault of others should not believe the term “accident” excuses the responsible party from liability. They should consult with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney to help build their cases soon after the harmful incident occurred. One valuable asset to a personal injury claim is a police report. Our expert Miami personal injury attorneys frequently get asked questions about how a police report can be used to benefit personal injury victims; we answer some of them below.
What Is a Police Report?
When there is an incident where someone was injured, such as a motor vehicle accident or other personal injury, and a law enforcement officer responds, that investigating officer will generate a police report. The police report will summarize the information regarding the incident. It will contain information about the parties involved, facts about when and where it occurred, and brief descriptions of the collision and the location it took place in. The officer will also include his opinions usually in the form of a fault determination. It may take a few weeks before the document is completed and becomes available.
How Do I Obtain a Copy Of a Police Report?
Victims involved in an accident where an officer responded and investigated the scene should try to get a copy of the police report as soon as possible. There are two ways to do this.
To request a paid copy of the report, contact the law enforcement agency representing the investigating officer. The investigating officer will give a receipt with the identification number of the police report to both involved parties before leaving the scene. If the identification number is unknown, the accident’s date, time, and location plus the affected party’s name should be provided so that the report can be obtained. A small processing fee is usually charged.
To request a free copy of the report, the victim’s own insurance company must have requested the report. If the company has obtained it, as is sometimes the case, a claims representative can send the client a copy.
Can I Use a Police Report As Evidence?
Police reports are rarely admissible in civil court proceedings because they do not uphold the rules of evidence. In most jurisdictions, police reports are considered hearsay, which means they are unsworn statements made out of court by someone without direct knowledge to describe the actions of others. Since a police report meets all the criteria and there is a rule against hearsay, police reports are commonly not allowed to be presented in court as evidence. In a few jurisdictions, police reports may qualify for certain exceptions to this rule, in which case they can be used as evidence.
How Can I Use a Police Report?
Even though police reports cannot be used in court, they can prove to be valuable assets out of court. Even before a lawsuit is filed, reports can be included with medical records and other relevant documents to supplement a demand letter. Reports should be presented earlier in injury claims to give an advantage in informal personal injury settlement negotiations. Information included in the report, such as the circumstances of the incident and the preliminary assessment of fault, can be valuable tools to collect a favorable settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company.
Occasionally, a police report will also identify witnesses of the accident and include their statements regarding what they observed. The statements provided by these witnesses can prove to be useful in settlement negotiations as well as court cases. Though the police report itself cannot be used, witnesses identified within it can be called to testify in court. If their statements determine the opposing party as at fault, the personal injury case will be strengthened
If you have suffered personal injury because of the negligence of others, call the Miami personal injury attorneys at Graham Legal today. We will meticulously look over the details of your case, help you file a claim, and get a settlement you deserve.