One of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to your personal injury auto accident case is the police report. However, sometimes police reports are NOT prepared if there is no report of injury. In fact, some insurance adjusters will point to the absence of a police report as evidence of absence of injury. In other words, if there was no police report, then you obviously weren’t injured. Therefore, if you are injured, you should tell the 911 operator or officers. Otherwise, the police will either not show and/or not write a report.
A police report can be very helpful when analyzing your accident case. First, I always look to see who the officer found at fault. The person at fault is usually listed as party #1. I also look to see what California Vehicle Code violation the office determined was involved. This information is usually found in the report. Sometimes the officers will also prepare a small diagram which can be helpful in determining what happened.
Unless the guilty party was under the influence, most officers won’t issue a citation to the guilty party. The lack of citation carries little legal significance. I also look to see if there are “associated” or “secondary” factors involved. Sometimes, my client is listed as an associated factor. That’s not a great thing, but it cannot be overlooked.
The report will also have the officer’s determination of road conditions, witness statements, reported injuries and if anyone was transported to a hospital, and the officer’s opinion regarding the severity of the property damage.
The officer’s opinion regarding fault carries a great deal of weight but is not legally binding. In most cases, the officer didn’t see what happened and only “investigated” the scene after the fact. His/her opinion is important but can be challenged. If you notice something wrong in a police report, you should take the time to file a “supplemental” report with the appropriate agency.
Therefore, police reports are helpful when it comes to accident cases. I will be honest… if the report is against you, you are going to have an uphill battle.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,