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Old 01-13-2012, 03:03 AM
 
27,218 posts, read 22,667,490 times
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Default accident reports not usually admissible in court

as i like to say its not so much what we dont know that gets us in trouble its what we think we know that aint so that does.

well here is a surprise i got.

i found out that here in ny as well as most states an accident report can not be introduced in court .

a fellow made a right turn from the right lane and didnt see me on his right and hit me.

so the cops come and they ask him how he hit me .

he tells the cop he hit me because he was in the center lanes, knew he

wasnt supposed to make a right turn from them ,only the service roads allow

turns and he didnt see me. when he saw his block come up he tried to turn and hit me.


well i call his insuranance company to have an adjuster come down and i find out he claimed i turned into him trying to make a left.

what bull-sh#t.. anyway i got the police report saying otherwise.

so we go to court. the judge says she cant accept the report.

she said all the report means is an accident took place.

telling the cop you did do something carrys no more weight than saying you didnt do something. you talk ,they write.

she said an accident report cant be cross examined as well as its not a sworn statement and anyone is free to go home,think about the accident and say now that i calmed down i realized that what i thought happened didnt happen that way.


interesting enough she said they can accept e-mails, notes etc as outside evidence but not police reports.

police reports they feel can be to mis-leading to a jury because of their official looking stature even though unless the cop observed something himself they are basically he said she said.


i almost lost the case but the judge felt the photos showed a little more evidence that he turned into me so i won .

who ever thought an admittance on a police report like that was a worthless paper in court.

live and learn
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:43 AM
 
7,886 posts, read 19,819,732 times
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Been there, done that.

That's why you need to back up your story with as much physical evidence from an accident scene as is possible to obtain. Pictures of the damage to the vehicles, skid marks, measurements of locations relating to the incident, etc. ... are all more significant than statements taken in the heat of the moment.

I had a similar episode where a semi-truck driver turned into me on a two-lane road, t-boning my car. All of the physical evidence at the accident scene showed he turned into oncoming traffic and at a location where there wasn't a place for him to turn, let alone at the high speed he turned at. IMO, he was under the influence at the time of the incident ... something backed up by the fact he'd had several other DWI and DUI tickets in his pro driving career (although not admissable as evidence at our hearing).

Yet he told his employer and insurance company that the causation of the accident was all my fault, fabricating a most implausible tale when you saw that the point of impact was totally in my traffic lane and his tractor rig was jacknifed across the roadway with the trailer in his lane but the tractor across the road.

I took pictures of his rig immediately upon getting out of my car when it came to a stop off the roadway, before he had a chance to move his rig. Those pictures documenting the location of his truck along with the skid mark measurements by the Highway Patrol were the evidence needed to disprove his statements and get a settlement from his insurance company when we went to court.

Unfortunately, that truck driver was not available to be held accountable at my hearing. He'd died several months before then in a truck driving accident where he was subsequently found to have been well over the limits for alcohol. He almost killed another innocent driver in that accident, too.
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:55 AM
 
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The police don't really investigate most accidents. I have the police report on an old accident which is completely wrong. The court is right. It only confirms that there was a collision, or incident.
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:02 AM
 
8,231 posts, read 10,892,213 times
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A good rule of thumb for admissability under the hearsay rule (which is what excludes accident reports) is to ask yourself: "when I present this evidence how will the other side fulfill their right to cross examine."

So, if the police officer that wrote the accident report is on the stand testifying aboiout the accident, the accident report can be used. Because the other side can cross examine the officer about the report. Same for any report. If the author is testifying, the report can be admitted. If he is not, then the report must be otherwise qualified. by an exception to the rule.
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:31 AM
 
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officers here in ny can not go to court for accidents unless death or serious injury is involved and even then they didnt see the accident and your free to recant your story so its really a moot point i would imagine.
about the best the judge can ask based on the report is why did your story change?....
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:45 AM
 
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Wow, Sunsprit, that's some story. I'm going to start carrying a camera in the car.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
officers here in ny can not go to court for accidents unless death or serious injury is involved and even then they didnt see the accident and your free to recant your story so its really a moot point i would imagine.
about the best the judge can ask based on the report is why did your story change?....

Of course, the officer cannot testify to the actual collision unless they see it, but they are very very frequently called to testify as to the position of the cars, the point of impact, the skid marks, the road conditions, etc. Most importantly, they can testify as to what the other party told them at the scene. they can testify as to an admission of fault by the other party, what the other party's opinion as to the speed of his own vehicle, his attentiveness during the investigation, the presence of food in the other party's car, or beverages or a cell phone, etc. All you have to do is go to the clerk's office and get a subpoena issued for the cop's appearance and call him to the stand. Happens all the time even in minor civil cases.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Long Island
4,174 posts, read 3,378,673 times
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Wow I can't believe the guy had the nerve to actually show up in court right next to you and say you hit him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Unfortunately, that truck driver was not available to be held accountable at my hearing. He'd died several months before then in a truck driving accident where he was subsequently found to have been well over the limits for alcohol. He almost killed another innocent driver in that accident, too.
A drunk who actually dies in a related accident instead of their victim? Good. Nothing worse than a repeat offender who has hurt others in the past and continues to do it. How he's able to get/keep his job as a driver when every employer does background checks is beyond me. Wonder if you can sue the employer too - there's just no excuse for DUIs.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:51 AM
 
27,218 posts, read 22,667,490 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson513 View Post
Of course, the officer cannot testify to the actual collision unless they see it, but they are very very frequently called to testify as to the position of the cars, the point of impact, the skid marks, the road conditions, etc. Most importantly, they can testify as to what the other party told them at the scene. they can testify as to an admission of fault by the other party, what the other party's opinion as to the speed of his own vehicle, his attentiveness during the investigation, the presence of food in the other party's car, or beverages or a cell phone, etc. All you have to do is go to the clerk's office and get a subpoena issued for the cop's appearance and call him to the stand. Happens all the time even in minor civil cases.
not here in nyc . unless death or serious injury you cant supeona them for routine traffic accidents. they already spend to much time in traffic court with petty bull crap.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:55 AM
 
8,231 posts, read 10,892,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
not here in nyc . unless death or serious injury you cant supeona them for routine traffic accidents. they already spend to much time in traffic court with petty bull crap.
You can subpoena any witness you want to court in NY. They may not like it, but its your right.

http://www.smallbusinessrescue.com/subpoena%20rules.htm
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