Car accident victims in California and around the country who pursue civil remedies usually claim in their lawsuits that the driver who injured them acted negligently. Evidence that could support such a claim includes footage captured by security or traffic cameras, toxicology test results showing that the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated and data gathered from motor vehicle black boxes revealing that a car was speeding when it crashed. Police accident and arrest reports can also provide evidence of negligence.
When police officers arrive at the scenes of auto accidents. They gather important information and ensure that injured road users receive medical attention. The information they include in their reports could be crucial in a negligence lawsuit, which is why it is important to call 911 after even a minor collision. Important information found in police reports includes the prevailing weather conditions, the names of vehicle occupants and witnesses, blood alcohol concentrations and details about traffic tickets issued to the drivers involved.
Obtaining police reports
Police departments usually complete accident reports within two weeks, and they often make them available online. When police reports are not available online, drivers can usually pick them up at a local police station. It is important to check the contributing factors section of the report as this is where police officers can comment about who they think was at fault.
Settling car accident lawsuits
Police reports may be useful at the negotiating table and in court. When police arrest or ticket at-fault drivers, experienced personal injury attorneys may use this information to encourage them or their insurance companies to settle and avoid the cost of prolonged litigation. If the case goes to court, attorneys could introduce the police report into evidence. If the defendant challenges the report, the officers involved may appear in court as witnesses.