Police reports are unreliable and fall under the category of speculation or hearsay. Since an officer does not physically witness the car accident or see the circumstances that led up to it, his report can’t be considered legitimate evidence of what actually occurred. Consequently, the state of Tennessee considers police reports inadmissible as evidence for proving liability in a car accident case. However, just because the police officer’s report is inadmissible, doesn’t mean the officer’s personal testimony can’t be used.
Police Officer Testimony
A police officer’s report can’t show the actions leading up to an accident or what occurred during the collision. However, an officer’s testimony of what he witnessed first-hand can bring necessary evidence to light on what occurred after the incident. This evidence is admissible and can be used to piece together what occurred and illustrate the severity of the wreck. Essential information that the responding officer can legitimately give includes:
- Position of vehicles. How the vehicles were positioned can give insight into where they were before and during the collision. This, in turn, can provide speculation into liability—or at least a window for your attorney to question impact locations. It’s important to note that if the officer draws the scene of the accident in his report, that illustration (although part of the report) may be admissible as it reflects what he saw when he arrived.
- Unadulterated witness statements. When it comes to injury claims, it’s amazing how defendants and plaintiffs alike can develop selective memory. They can say one thing at the time of the accident, but change the story completely when it comes time to testify. However, although he may not have witnessed the accident first-hand, the responding officer can affirm or refute statements by comparing them to the ones he took at the time of the accident.
- Injury conditions of parties involved. Insurance companies are quick to question the severity of victims’ injuries as well as how they sustained them. However, an officer can verify the injury conditions of both parties by testifying about the physical conditions of those involved once he arrived at the scene.
- Mental and physical conditions of parties involved. Finally, the responding officer can give insight into the conditions and appearance of each driver at the time of his arrival. A driver’s condition can help prove liability. For instance, if a driver appeared to be overly tired, his fatigue could have been distracting enough to lead to the accident. Likewise, if the officer noticed signs of intoxication, this could be evidence of reckless driving.
Securing the Evidence You Need
When pursuing a car accident injury claim, you’ll need as much help as you can get to convince the insurance company and the court that your injuries require a fair settlement. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance you require to file your claim, and the resolve to secure your claim’s success. We know how frustrating and complicated car accident claims can be, especially when so many things can make or break your case. Let our experience and knowledge work for you. Contact us today at 615-807-7900 for a FREE consultation.
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