It happens more often than you might think. You finally get the police report regarding the motor vehicle collision in which you were involved. However, when you read the report, it is wrong! It says you hit the other driver! That isn’t right. You were the one who got hit. What do you do next? How did this happen?
Why is the information in the police report incorrect?
Remember, people are not perfect. Sometimes, the errors are just human errors. The officer may have just typed in the wrong information. In some cases, there are several cars involved. Instead of typing in “Car 1 hit Car 2,” the officer got the numbers mixed up. He or she may have been in a hurry and just made a mistake. An officer may have been more focused on clearing traffic and helping people who were injured than on how the accident happened.
This isn’t the end of the world. The reports can be changed. Sometimes, all it takes is bringing the error to the attention of the reporting officer.
Is the police report admissible in court?
No. What may surprise some people is that collision reports are generally inadmissible in Tennessee courts (See Tennessee Code Annotated §55-10-114 and Youngblood v. Solomon, 1996 WL 310015 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 1996).
The police department is required to make the police report available to any party (the victims and the defendants) who demands it. Police can use the information from the report for their own internal review or to help traffic safety agencies compile data to help understand why traffic accidents happen – so the agencies can try to suggest solutions. For example, if many people are hurt at a particular intersection, that information can be used to support installing a traffic light at that intersection.
There are a few key considerations regarding police reports:
- Generally, the police officer can be called to testify about his/her observations when the officer was called to the accident site. The officer will normally review the report to refresh his/her memory. So, it’s important to make sure the report is accurate.
- Police reports are used by all parties in the initial determination of fault and liability. When an insurance company sees that fault has been attributed to someone other than their insured, whether correct or not, they will contest liability. It is important that the reports are accurate. This could help the parties resolve the claim sooner.
Experienced car accident lawyers review the police report quickly after the initial consultation with the client. The sooner the report is reviewed, the easier it is to get the police officer to correct the report – because the correct information in the report should still be fresh in the officer’s mind.
If you have been injured in an automobile collision, call Rocky McElhaney Law Firm at 615.425.2500 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation. Our car accident lawyers have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, Knoxville, and Clarksville to better serve our clients.