How much can I rely upon a police report as evidence of what happened in an automobile accident?

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How much can I rely upon a police report as evidence of what happened in an automobile accident?

Asked on April 12, 2009 under Accident Law, Vermont

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

In many states, the police report is considered hearsay and is not admissible in a court of law as the evidence (i.e., it is a third party account of other witnesses) unless for instance, the officer saw the accident.  So, usually, officers can testify about what happened but the report itself is not admissible.  Can it be used in what happened in an automoble accident? In a way by the insurance company, as one of several factors to determine if the observations are consistent with the damage, etc. 

Rule 803.  Hearsay Exceptions: Availability of Declarant Immaterial

 
 
 
 

   
 
 

The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness: 

 

(8) Public records and reports.  (A) To the extent not otherwise provided in (B), records, reports, statements, or data compilations in any form of a public office or agency setting forth its regularly conducted and regularly recorded activities, or matters observed pursuant to duty imposed by law and as to which there was a duty to report, or factual findings resulting from an investigation made pursuant to authority granted by law. (B) The following are not within this exception to the hearsay rule: (i) investigative reports by police and other law enforcement personnel; (ii) investigative reports prepared by or for a government, a public office or an agency when offered by it in a case in which it is a party; (iii) factual findings offered by the government in criminal cases; (iv) any matter as to which the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness. 

 
 
 
 
 
 


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