After a crash, the first call a driver makes is usually 911. The police and medical personnel may be sent to the scene, and the police often write reports after an investigation. A police report can be helpful to your case, but it might also be used against you, depending on its contents.

Police reports are available to all parties involved in an accident. For many, the report is a guide to evidence uncovered by the police. In some cases, the evidence is not in your favor. Generally, police reports are not admissible in court because they violate the rule against hearsay. However, certain exceptions to the hearsay rule might allow a police report to be used. The other driver could potentially use the report as evidence against you, perhaps to demonstrate how you share fault. An attorney can help you defend yourself. We can work to keep the report out of the courtroom, undermine the report’s credibility, or provide strong opposing evidence.

After a crash, call our New Jersey car accident lawyers at (732) 838-9769 to get a free case review from our team at Legal Care New Jersey.

How a Police Report Can Be Used in a New Jersey Auto Accident Lawsuit

Some people believe the police report from their car accident holds the key to getting fair compensation for their injuries. However, the police report may be used by both sides in any car accident lawsuit. The defendant in your case can obtain a copy of the report and review it for useful information just as easily as you. Theoretically, the police report can be used against you, but whether this happens depends on what is in the report.

Both parties may obtain copies of the police report, but it is often hard to use in court because it is often inadmissible, as discussed in more detail below. Instead, many plaintiffs and defendants used the report as a guide to find evidence uncovered by the police. For example, the defendant might be unable to present the report as evidence in court. However, they might use the report to track down witnesses interviewed by the police who can back up their version of events. Remember, our Bayonne, NJ car accident lawyers can help you do the same.

While you can examine police reports to find evidence and information you can use to your advantage, so can the opposing party. If the reports suggest that you are at fault for the accident, the opposing party might use this information against you. One of the earliest steps to take in your case is to get a copy of the police report and review it carefully with your attorney.

How a Police Report Might Be Used Against You in the Courtroom in a New Jersey Car Accident Case

Even though the accident report is usually inadmissible as evidence, there might be ways around this, and the defendant might use the report against you in court. According to the New Jersey Rules of Evidence on hearsay, numerous exceptions exist for the rule against hearsay.

Several exceptions to the hearsay rule might allow for the use of police reports as evidence, First, a police report might be admitted into evidence if it fits the exception for public records. This might include a police report since it is compiled by law enforcement in accordance with their official duties.

A police report might instead be admissible under a different exception for records of regularly conducted activity. This is often associated with business records but might include police reports, as crash reports are a part of regular police activities.

Both of these exceptions might apply in New Jersey, but you cannot use untrustworthy evidence. If the court believes that police reports were compiled with untrustworthy information or in a manner that undermines their validity, these exceptions may not apply.

Details from the police report might be used as evidence against you. For example, the police often include diagrams of accident scenes in crash reports. The opposing party might use these diagrams to show that you are at fault for the accident, at least partially.

How to Defend Yourself Against Unfairly Incriminating Police Reports in New Jersey Car Accident Cases

First, we can try to have the reports kept out based on hearsay violations. If the opposing party tries to get the report entered into evidence under an exception to the hearsay rule, you and your attorney can challenge their arguments. Even if the reports meet the above-mentioned exceptions to the hearsay rule, there might be other legal reasons the reports should be excluded, such as the fact that the police used facts that were obtained second-hand and not observed directly by the officers to build the report. Talk to an attorney to make sure.

Another option is to work to undermine the reliability of the report. Were the officers impartial? The police should not favor one driver or the other when investigating an accident. If we have reason to believe the officers wrote the reports in a way that favored the opposing party, we can undermine their reliability and convince the jury to disregard them. This might be an issue in smaller towns where it is more likely for the police to know or be familiar with the people involved in a crash.

We can also try to reduce the effectiveness of the report’s claims by introducing conflicting evidence. For example, the police report might indicate that you were speeding when the accident happened, and the defendant might try to use this to show you contributed to the accident. However, multiple witnesses might testify that you were not speeding when the accident happened.

Information in a Police Report That Might Be Used Against You in a New Jersey Car Accident Lawsuit

Depending on the extent of the police investigation, various details in the report could be used against you. For example, the police often include diagrams of the accident. These diagrams might show where the vehicles were positioned during the crash.

The report might also include statements from the drivers and witnesses. Depending on what people say to the investigators, this might pose a problem for you. The report might also contain your own statements to the police. One major exception to the rule against hearsay allows the opposing party to use your own previously made statements against you. This includes statements to the police after an accident. There should also be details about damage and injuries.

Remember, police reports are supposed to be based on facts and details gathered by the police. It is not unusual for some details to favor your side of the case while others favor the defendant. An attorney can help you parse through these details and build the strongest case possible.

Call Our New Jersey Car Accident Attorneys for Help as Soon as Possible

After a crash, call our Clifton, NJ car accident lawyers at (732) 838-9769 to get a free case review from our team at Legal Care New Jersey.