Police reports are usually generated by police officers investigating the scene of an accident. They usually contain information like the time, date, place, names of witnesses, and a description of the accident, including the police officer’s own thoughts and opinions. Many individuals involved in accidents where a police report was prepared will rely on its conclusions and in frustration sometimes declare, “But the police report said it was his fault!”
While police reports can be helpful to the victim of an accident, they are not evidence and courts often exclude the admission of a police report into evidence at trial. A police report will likely contain important facts and information. However, an adverse police report is not the demise of a valid lawsuit.
Officers are not eyewitnesses and therefore all of their conclusions are based upon witness testimony and physical evidence present after the accident. Officers may have limited training in accident reconstruction and witness interviewing techniques. Furthermore, the types of training in these two fields varies drastically among each individual officer.
The officer’s first duty is ensure safety of the people at scenes of crimes and accidents. This sometimes involves moving and altering physical evidence. Additionally, police officers are also sometimes rushed to complete a police report and interview witnesses. This may at times lead to missing key points and false or inaccurate conclusions.
After filing a complaint, further discovery may resolve the inaccuracies contained in the police report. Experts can also reconstruct an accidents and measurements to refute or confirm details and conclusions in the report.