As a practical matter, the accident report’s content when hiring a lawyer does matter. However, you’ll see here that a law enforcement officer’s opinion as to the cause of an accident isn’t a large impediment to successfully winning a lawsuit involving a motor vehicle accident.
As a car accident lawyer Little Rock, AR respectfully might attest, lawyers will generally evaluate a case on two broad factors: liability and damages. If there are catastrophic injuries involved, a lawyer is more likely to take on a case with a questionable police report, if the client can articulately state why the police report is wrong.
When investigating a car accident, a lawyer and his team will track down everyone involved, including the police officer who drafted the accident report, first responders on the scene, and other law enforcement and medical personnel who were involved either on the scene or attending to the client. Anything a client tells a police officer or anyone else on the scene is generally admissible in court.
However, the opinion of the cause of a crash by a fact witness is generally not admissible. This means that if a police officer’s opinion is that you ran the red light rather than the other party is not based on his personal observations. If a police officer wrote in the accident report that you illegally changed lanes, when in fact, the other party caused the accident by illegally changing lanes, this is not based on the police officer’s personal observations, but hearsay. Generally, both hearsay and the personal opinion of a lay (fact) witness are inadmissible in court.
There are lots of exceptions to these rules, and the Rules of Evidence are extremely complex. But the main takeaway here is that an incorrect accident report is not fatal to your case. It may be the basis for the other side’s insurance company to deny your claim, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t win your case in court.
Steve Harrelson, a car accident lawyer Little Rock, AR trusts, says that locating and interviewing people who actually saw the accident are more important than the contents of an accident report. “It is crucial to track down witnesses to the accident very soon after it occurs,” says Harrelson. “People move. Their memory fades. It’s important to get them on record as to what happened to combat an incorrect accident report.”
While all witnesses can help, it’s important to note that that friends and acquaintances of yours who saw the accident will be considered “biased” by the other side. In a perfect world, you can locate a witness who has no reason to testify other than simply telling a jury what they saw.
For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in investigating car crashes for years. Steve Harrelson, a veteran car accident lawyer Little Rock AR, has successfully presented car crash cases to juries in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. If you have been injured in a car accident, the lawyers at the Harrelson Law Firm stand ready to help.
Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into the discovery process in motor vehicle accidents.