How to Get a Car Accident Police Report - Ask the Hammer Law Podcast

04 – How To Get a Car Accident Police Report – Ask The Hammer

“Ask The Hammer” – Exploring the Legal Matters That Matter Most

Welcome again to the podcast series now available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio! “Ask the Hammer” is the radio show with attorney Darryl Isaacs, “The Hammer.” Do you have a legal question for The Hammer? You can submit your questions via Facebook or Twitter using #askthehammer. Also reach out to us using the contact form on this page or give the offices of Isaacs & Isaacs a call at 800-800-8888. We’d love to use your questions on the show!

Episode 4: How To Get A Car Accident Police Report

source: istockphoto

Links and downloads mentioned in this episode:

Negotiation With Police Report from FindLaw

Purchasing Police Report from BuyCrash.com

Car Accident Checklist Page – download for your vehicle

 Car Accident Checklist PDF

Questions answered in this episode:

  • How will my police report be used?
  • What should I be aware of when I speak with involved drivers and police officers?
  • What is the role of a lawyer in police problem-solving?
  • How can a police report help my case?
  • Can anyone obtain my police report?
  • Where does a lawyer get my police report for me?
  • How does an attorney interact with the police department?
  • If my police report looks incorrect, can I contest it?
  • Our social media question of the week – the questions listeners Ask The Hammer

Favorite quote from this episode:

Listen to this episode using the player at the top of the page, or connect via iTunes, Stitcher Radio or SoundCloud.

Episode 04 Transcription

[music]

HOST:
Welcome to Ask the Hammer, the podcast exploring the legal matters that matter most. I’m your host, Jeremy Kocal, and as always we are here with attorney Darryl Isaacs, “The Hammer,” ready to take on the most popular questions about law.

Today’s episode: How To Get A Car Accident Police Report
We’ll discuss what a police report contains, your options in getting your police report and why it matters in the legal process. And we of course will not forget to address the question that listeners want to Ask The Hammer.

OK Darryl, give us the basics on a police report.

DARRYL:
A police report is I think the single most important thing that can happen once you have an accident. You know, when you have an accident, the police are called and they investigate the accident. So it’s a start, especially if you’re not at fault.

A police officer’s job is to investigate, try to find out what happened, whether there was alcohol involved, whether somebody did something illegal or if there’s drugs. And insurance companies will a lot of times go with these officers, and they’re not going to 100 percent, but if you’re not at fault, it’s just important to get that. It also gives credibility to the accident as well, because if you don’t have a police report it might be your word against theirs and insurance companies may not know who to believe.

HOST:
So if I’m at the scene of an accident and I’m interacting with police officers now, what should I be aware of as far as how my police report will be used?

DARRYL:
Well, you never want to make any admissions. Most of the time people will know if they are at fault or not. If you have a green light and all of a sudden someone runs a red light, you know, if the police officer asks… “Yes I had a green light.” It’s OK to say something like that. But if you’re not sure, I mean, we’ve have people literally call us, they call the police and they call us while they’re waiting for the police and then we’ll try to give them quick advice. We even have a brochure that we’d like to get in everybody’s car so they know what to do, you know, if they’re in an accident.

Hypothetically, there’s a lot of duties that go with driving. So, let’s say another car is speeding but you weren’t paying attention, you might be partially at fault. So what I’m going to suggest is, you certainly answer the police officer’s questions, but I wouldn’t volunteer any more information.

You know, if you’re hit from behind, you know, if you were stopped, it’s OK to be honest, but you don’t want to share information. Like one time we had a case where a person took evasive action because he didn’t want to hit a deer, but when he did it he went in someone else’s lane. So even though he took evasive action… he ended up being at fault and he didn’t realize it. Had he not make that admission, you know, “there was a deer,” maybe it wouldn’t have been as much.

So, you know my advice is always don’t volunteer anything. You can answer questions to a police officer. I would not make any statements to the other driver – it would be better to say we never talked, instead of, we talked. Then all the sudden they said that you said it was your fault, even if you didn’t. So, less is better.

HOST:
What happens if you are in an accident and you have sustained maybe some minor injuries, but the police have not actually come to the scene of the accident? I don’t know, if it’s a busy day, if that comes up sometimes?

DARRYL:
Police officers, mostly they won’t come to a private property, but if it’s public property, they have to come.

HOST:
And then, let’s take private property example: If somebody is in a car accident in a parking lot of a mall or something similar…

DARRYL:
Then what you want to do is get all the information. You want to get the witnesses, you know, as much information as you can get. I still will try to call and have the police come. I’d rather they tell me no, sometimes they might do it just to be nice.

source: iStockphoto
HOST:
So the team at FindLaw.com published a page that says, “While a police report itself probably will not be admissible in civil court proceedings, it can go a long way toward gaining negotiation leverage in any personal injury dispute.” What has your experience been like with that Darryl? ”

DARRYL:
Well it’s true, they may not be admissible per se, but they might list witness names and numbers and what a witness says, and then if the witness says something different, then you can call the police officer, “well the witness said this.” There’s ways to get it in, but the court may not just say, OK, a police officer’s opinion is prima facie evidence of someone’s negligence. So it is important, but it’s not the end all.

HOST:
Can anyone obtain a police report on behalf of a victim? Are they available to the public?

DARRYL:
If you have the pertinent information, you can buy it, yes. You might have to know some pertinent information like date of birth, social security number. It is public record, so pretty much they are discoverable, but you may have to have some key information to get it.

HOST:
And how does a lawyer go about getting a police report then?

DARRYL:
We just go to this website, BuyCrash.com and you literally just buy the police report. You know, when they come to us we have all the pertinent information.

HOST:
Are you dealing with the police department and officers on a regular basis as a personal injury attorney?

DARRYL:
Yeah, well we get police reports all the time. A lot of times we don’t have to take their statements because, you know, sometimes the other side admits at fault right away, the insurance company might throw in the towel and so sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.

HOST:
And what would you say is the role of a lawyer in police problem solving?

DARRYL:
Let’s say you have a client that might have a horrible accident but let’s say they had something in their car that could be damaging, like marijuana or something. You just want to maybe talk to the police officer and find out what they found. It’s like anything else, you got to take the good with the bad. You just want to know what’s going to be said or what’s going to happen.

HOST:
I wanted to know, what does the preliminary exchange and what do the interactions between a lawyer and a police officer usually look like?

DARRYL:
Well, if we had a nice case and we want to lock down, we will maybe bring the police officer in. You’re allowed to pay them for their time and expense and you might just bring them in and find out what they’re going to say, or you might just take their deposition and you know what they are going to say.

HOST:
And how does the interaction develop or change as you go through the legal process, a lawsuit and even to court?

DARRYL:
Well it’s like anything else, they come in and give testimony. They might tell you one thing at a prior meeting and then they might say something different in court. That’s why the best thing in the world is to lock them down. Sometimes we’ll bring them in and get a sworn statement. We’ll type up their statement and get them to sign it so if they change their testimony later, we’ve got something – “hey you read it once.”

HOST:
If you’ve been in an accident, and you feel that the police report is way off base, what is the process of contesting a police report? Can you contest it?

DARRYL:
Yes, you can certainly contest it, you may not change the police officer’s mind. Doesn’t necessarily mean it kills your case, I mean it certainly may not help.

HOST:
So then you with your client would bring in obviously their individual testimony, which may differ from the actual police report.

DARRYL:
Yeah, or we might just hire our own accident reconstructionist and try to determine the facts that way.

HOST:
And how does an accident reconstructionist work?

DARRYL:
They would come and take measurements and take pictures and maybe look at skid marks. There’s a lot of different things they would do. And sometimes police officers just come and make a quick observation and maybe they’re wrong. But they’re not cheap either, you might have to pay an accident reconstructionist two or three grand. So, it might be one of those things that, you know, it warrants it in a very big case, maybe in a small case it may not.

HOST:
We turn once again to social media and the questions that you would like to Ask The Hammer. Today’s question comes from Facebook.

Are there codes of conduct that are expected when interacting and speaking with a police officer? For example: Am I required to be polite?

DARRYL:
Well, they’re not required, but you get more flies with honey than vinegar. It would do you well anytime to respect the authority, respect the police, you know, “Yes sir. No sir,” cooperate, especially… they might help you. They might be helping your case.

[music]

HOST:
If you have a legal question you’d like to Ask The Hammer, reach out to us on Twitter, on Facebook , or the website, IsaacsandIsaacs.com, we’d love to tackle your question on our next show.

And here’s our legal disclaimer:

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. If you have specific legal questions, contact an attorney to discuss specific legal matters about your case. The attorneys of Isaacs and Isaacs operate nationally with their primary office in Louisville, Kentucky. Listeners should note that legal services may be performed by others.

Join us next time with Darryl Isaacs on Ask the Hammer. Thanks for listening.

Get Your Question Answered By Darryl Isaacs


Interested in submitting your question to Darryl Isaacs on Ask The Hammer? Reach out using the contact form on this page or give the team at Isaacs and Isaacs a call at 800-800-8888.

For additional resources and more podcast episodes, be sure to check out the Isaacs and Isaacs blog.

SHARE ON