When the police respond to the scene of an accident, they make an accident report. They may also issue one or more traffic citations. As you begin your claim for compensation, you might wonder about the police report can come into play. Can a police report help you prove a civil case? How do you use a police report to win your car accident settlement? Here’s what you need to know from our Las Vegas car accident attorneys.
Is a Police Report Admissible in a Civil Case?
No, a police report is not admissible in a civil case. Generally, the courts consider a police report inadmissible hearsay. You can call the officer who makes the report to testify as a witness, but you can’t admit the report itself. There may be some exceptions like when the parties agree to admit the police report or when you use the police report to point out a contradictory statement.
Are Police Reports Admissible in Civil Cases?
Even though police reports are not admissible in civil cases, they may still be relevant to your civil case. You can use the police report to gather names of witnesses and begin to investigate how the accident may have occurred. In a civil case, the jury needs to reach their own conclusion about the facts and the law. They can’t rely on the conclusion of the police officer, so the police report is not admissible.
Police Reports and Traffic Tickets in Civil Cases
Even though a police report isn’t admissible on its own in a civil case, it may still be a helpful tool for winning your civil case. Many cases reach a settlement through negotiations with the insurance company. You may be able to convince the insurance company to fairly pay your claim by presenting a copy of the police report. Although the police report isn’t the final answer on liability, it may be enough to coax the insurance company to settle your case fairly.
If the insurance company still isn’t convinced by the police report, you can always use the police report as a launching point to prepare your civil case. The police report contains valuable evidence that you can use to build your claim. For example, the report has names of witnesses. You can contact the witnesses and ask them for more detailed information.
In addition, the police report may have information about how the accident occurred. Of course, the statement is only the police officer’s opinion. The jury in the civil case doesn’t have to accept their opinion. However, if you examine the reasons why the officer reached their conclusion, you may find valuable evidence that can help you prove your case.
Why Aren’t Police Reports Admissible in Civil Cases?
There are two reasons that police reports aren’t admissible in civil cases. The first is that they contain hearsay. In Nevada and the United States, every person who is a part of a court case has the right to question witnesses against them. That’s why you can’t submit a statement or an affidavit instead of having someone testify in person. You have the right to cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, just like they can cross-examine your witnesses.
Hearsay is a statement made out of court that’s meant to prove the truth of the statement. If you offer the police report to verify that the statements in the report are true, you’re offering hearsay. Instead, you need to call the witnesses making the statements to testify directly to what they see and hear.
The second reason that police reports aren’t admissible in civil cases is that they contain conclusions. The police officer states their opinion in the report about how the accident occurred. But in a civil case, it’s the jury that makes the final decision about who is to blame for the accident. The police report isn’t admissible so that the jury makes their own decision instead of relying on the opinion of the police officer.
Nevada Cases About Admitting a Police Report Into Evidence
In the Frias v. Valle case, the Nevada Supreme Court talked about admitting a police report into evidence in a civil case. In the Frias case, a cab driver collided with a pickup truck driver. The cab driver hit the rear of the truck as the truck was stopped in a left-turn lane.
The court said that the lower court made a mistake when it admitted the police report into evidence. They said that the police report contained statements of third parties and conclusions about the cause of the accident. The court also admitted references to traffic citations that were issued. The higher court said that the police may testify to statements and observations, but they can’t give conclusions about the cause of the accident.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
An experienced attorney can help you determine how to use a police report to your advantage in a civil case. The police report can be a critical piece of the puzzle as you pursue justice after an accident. While the police report itself is not admissible in court, you can still use it as a platform to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. You can also use it to identify critical pieces of evidence. With training and experience, your attorney can help you use the police report to your advantage after a car accident.
Contact Our Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys
Have you been in a car accident? Are you wondering how to use the police report to get a fair settlement? Our attorneys can help. At Adam S. Kutner & Associates, we offer skilled and aggressive legal services designed to help you get the best possible result for your car accident case. A police report can be a valuable tool in a car accident case.
Our attorneys can help you take all the necessary steps to win fair compensation for your losses after a car accident. We can help you examine the police report and use it to build your claim and negotiate a fair payment. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.