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Is the Opinion of a Police Officer on the Cause of a Crash Binding?

Posted by Bruce B. Brusavich | Oct 08, 2020 | 0 Comments

It is common for a law enforcement officer who has not witnessed a vehicle crash to conduct an investigation, prepare a report, and make a finding as to who was at fault for the crash. This person is usually noted as party number one in the accident investigation report. 

In most jurisdictions, such an opinion is not admissible in court and the accident report itself is not admissible due to the hearsay rule. However, the officer will be able to refer to the accident report to refresh his recollection and will be able to testify as to his physical findings and documentation at the scene. Some of the information an officer may provide include the location of skid marks, vehicle points of rest, traffic light conditions, and the weather, etc. Statements contained in the report are hearsay and inadmissible unless they meet one of the many exceptions to the hearsay rule.

Are Police Crash Report Findings Always Correct?

Information in accident reports is often incomplete and assumptions are often made by the law enforcement officer regarding the applicable law which is wrong. At AgnewBrusavich, we have found multiple errors over the years with California accident reports that range from the officer relying on:

  • The wrong skidmarks.
  • Faulting a bicyclist who was rear-ended for not being in a bicycle lane when there really was no bicycle lane but rather just a white line painted on the edge of the roadway.
  • Citing a pedestrian hit by a vehicle for jaywalking when he was crossing the street at a corner without a painted crosswalk. In this situation, this location constitutes an unmarked crosswalk and gives a pedestrian the right-of-way. The duty is then on the motorist to avoid striking the pedestrian.

We have also found that many law enforcement officers have a distinct bias against motorcyclists and bicyclists and often erroneously blame them for crashes. Then upon closer inspection, the resourceful and talented California personal injury attorneys at AgnewBrusavich will make use of our retained experts and we end up finding evidence that the opinion of the law enforcement officers was not correct.

Unfortunately, insurance adjusters routinely rely upon the determination of fault by the investigating officer to deny legitimate claims or assign a percentage of fault to the injured party. When they can do this, they then have reason to make lowball offers. This is why it is important to seek representation early by a lawyer experienced in automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian crashes so they can get to the scene early. The sooner your lawyer can get to your accident scene the fresher the evidence is such as skid marks, debris, and property damage. All of these physical remnants will help determine the true cause of your Torrance vehicle injury crash

Speak with a Talented California Personal Injury Attorney Today

AgnewBrusavich has years of experience and success in representing motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians involved in serious California injury accidents. We know full-well how important it is that victims obtain the most compensation for the damages and losses they suffered. We know exactly where to look when it comes to finding information and documentation that strengthens a victim's California personal injury claim. Call AgnewBrusavich today to schedule a free consultation by calling (310) 928-9081.

About the Author

Bruce B. Brusavich

Principal

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