After a car accident, the responding law enforcement officer usually completes an accident report. This may be required by state law and by your insurance company. This report can be very useful when seeking compensation from the other driver after an accident. However, in some cases, the report may contain errors, or be challenged in a personal injury lawsuit.
Calling the Police After an Accident
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, it is necessary to call the police after an accident where:
- Someone was injured;
- A vehicle cannot be moved and a tow truck is required;
- A driver appears to be intoxicated or impaired;
- A driver does not have a driver's license or will not show their driver's license;
- A driver does not have insurance; or
- A driver tries to leave the scene of the accident.
Once the police are called, they will complete an accident report. Law enforcement officers may also take photo or video records of the accident scene and vehicle damage. The State of Maryland Motor Vehicle Accident Report will contain a lot of information documented by the police or law enforcement officer. This includes:
- Officer's ID
- Location of the accident
- Accident diagram
- Description of the accident
- Objects damaged and nature of the damage
- Name and address of property owners
- Contact information for the drivers or pedestrians involved
- Driver's license information
- Fault of driver
- Vehicle description
- Insurer and policy number
- Passenger contact information
- Contributing circumstances
- Extent of vehicle damage
- Road conditions
- Substances detected
- Injury severity
Getting a Copy of the Accident Report
After an accident, you should consider getting a copy of the accident report for review. You should read over the accident report to make sure it is accurate. The police officer may have made a mistake in the report that you need to get corrected. An accident report error could negatively affect your ability to recover damages after an accident. You should be able to get a copy of an accident report in most cases through contacting the law enforcement agency involved. For Maryland State Police Records, directions for obtaining an accident report are found here.
Insurance Company's Use of Accident Reports
After you contact your insurance company about an accident, the insurance company will conduct their own investigation. They also will review the accident report. This is another reason to make sure the accident report is accurate, so they don't deny your claim based on an error in the report.
Using an Accident Report in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When an accident report shows that the other driver may be at fault for the accident, using the accident report can be very helpful in getting in negotiating a settlement with the other parties. However, there may be limits to how much of an accident report can be used in court.
The police officer who filled out the report usually arrives after the accident. They can record what they saw at the scene of the accident, and what other people say. However, they generally did not witness the accident. Portions of an accident may be challenged as “hearsay.”
Generally, hearsay testimony is not admissible as evidence. However, there are a number of exceptions to the hearsay rule in Maryland civil cases. Your attorney will be able to evaluate the circumstances involved and see if the evidence meets one of the available exceptions to be admitted into evidence.
Even if some of the information in the report is not admissible, it may identify witnesses who saw the accident. Your attorney may call these witnesses to testify about what they observed. Witness testimony can be very helpful for a jury to evaluate who was at fault for the car accident. Additionally, the investigating officer could be called as a witness to talk about what they saw at the scene of the accident.
Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys
It can sometimes be difficult to understand the full value of an accident report. Your Maryland personal injury attorneys will investigate your claims, and make sure the report is accurate. At Gilman & Bedigian we can use a police accident report to negotiate a settlement for your car accident injuries and damages. This can be an important document to settling your personal injury claim. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with car accident injury cases in Maryland. We will fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.