After an accident that causes an injury, a law enforcement officer may visit the scene to draft an accident report. These reports can provide a great deal of information that help attorneys and insurance companies establish fault
However, in New York, information from police reports is only admissible if it meets certain criteria. Reports must be certified in order to provide allowable information. Furthermore, admissible information must be based on the drafting officer’s own observations that were made while carrying out their duties as a police officer.
If you require help with your injury case in Westchester County, NY, get in touch with our experienced personal injury attorneys at The Martello Law Firm by dialing (914) 685-6950.
The Admissibility of Police Reports in Injury Cases in Westchester County, NY
In many states, police reports may not be utilized as evidence because the reports constitute inadmissible hearsay. However, in New York, information from police reports may be used as evidence in injury cases if certain conditions are satisfied.
First, your police report must be properly certified to be used as evidence in your injury case. Police reports are certified if they are made in the regular course of business and satisfy the reporting requirements set forth by the state and greater law enforcement agency. For example, when an officer arrives at the scene of a car accident and creates their report in accordance with standard requirements, that report will be certified.
Also, in order to be admissible, information from a police report must be based on the drafting officer’s own observations that were made while carrying out their duties as a police officer. For instance, if an officer made note in their police report that they smelled alcohol on a driver’s breath while investigating them, that information may be allowed because it was personally observed by the officer. Furthermore, an officer’s observations regarding the injuries and property damage caused by a crash may also be admitted.
On the other hand, if an officer assumes certain information in their report that is not based off a personal observation, then that information will be considered inadmissible. For example, if vehicles involved in a collision were moved before an officer arrived, then the officer’s drawn diagram of how they thought the crash happened may not be admitted. Further, if an officer bases an assumption that a driver was drunk off of a witness statement rather than a personal observation, then that assumption will not be allowed.
In conclusion, information from police reports can only be admitted if the reports are properly certified and if the information at issue was gathered through direct observation by drafting officers. You can follow this link to recover a copy of your report and review its contents with our New Rochelle personal injury lawyers.
Examples of Admissible Information from Police Reports in Westchester County, NY
As previously mentioned, information from your police report may be admitted as evidence in your injury case if the report was certified and if the information at issue was based on the reporting officer’s observations. There are certain examples of information that frequently meet this criterion.
For instance, an officer may arrive at the scene of a crash and collect involved parties’ background information. This information may include names, driver’s license information, license plate information, and insurance information. Typically, these pieces of background information will be admitted as evidence in your injury case.
Additionally, there are other observations that police officers can make in their reports that are usually allowed. For example, when an officer arrives at the scene of your accident and documents observable injuries to victims and observable property damage, that information will be admitted as evidence to support your claim.
Can Inadmissible Information from a Police Report Still Help Your Injury Case in Westchester County, NY?
Ideally, a police report will be properly certified and the information within the report will be admissible. However, even when certain information is not allowed as evidence, it can still be used to support your claim.
Accident reports are often among the first documents analyzed by lawyers and insurers when assessing fault for accidents. They can provide a great deal of information that helps form a deeper understanding of how crashes happened. Even when certain information is inadmissible, it may point victims in the direction of useful evidence that is allowed.
For example, eyewitness statements made in police reports are not always admissible. However, instead of using the witness’s statement from your report to prove that the defendant is at fault, you may call on that witness to testify in court as to what they saw.
Can You Win Your Injury Case in Westchester County if Your Police Report is Inadmissible?
Police reports are rarely sufficient to establish fault for accidents on their own. There is a wide range of evidence that is regularly used to explain how or why certain accidents occurred. Accordingly, you can still win your injury case without using information from your police report.
For example, photos and physical evidence collected at the scene of your accident may be used to identify at-fault parties and establish their liability. You should always attempt to take photos are the scene of your accident if you can.
Additionally, witness statements and surveillance footage may be used to support your injury case. Witnesses can provide testimony that explains why the defendant is at fault. Furthermore, surveillance footage from security cameras and dashboard cameras may be used to show the events that unfolded before, during, and after your accident.
Finally, expert witness statements may also be useful when building your claim. Expert witnesses are those who have competed the required training, experienced, and education in their specific fields. They may be summoned to explain complicated theories of fault.
If You Were Hurt as the Result of Another Person’s Negligence in Westchester County, NY, Call Our Attorneys for Help
Seek support from our experienced White Plains personal injury lawyers at The Martello Law Firm by calling (914) 685-6950 today.