The fact that the investigating police officer cited the other driver does not necessarily mean that you will prevail in a personal injury matter. Consider that in most cases, the officer did not actually witness the accident. Thus, much of his report will contain inadmissible hearsay (except for his observations and what the parties tell him). His conclusions and, thus his decision to cite the other driver, are inadmissible evidence.
Additionally, the negligent driver may fight the citation in traffic court and prevail with an acquittal (being found not responsible for the citation but not the accident).
Only expert witnesses can testify about opinions or conclusions. While some officers may be considered expert accident reconstructionists (and, therefore, be permitted to offer admissible opinions), most traffic officers are not.
If a person testifies in traffic court, his or her transcribed trial testimony may be admissible in the personal injury case. If the traffic court finds the other driver responsible on the citation, a certified copy of the court’s disposition is also admissible. Thus, if the prosecutor subpoenas you to testify at the other driver’s traffic court hearing, you should cooperate but make sure you first consult with your personal injury attorney who will help you prepare for your testimony.
Many injured parties who have been cited for causing a motor vehicle accident erroneously think that they cannot prevail in a personal injury matter. Remember, much of the officer’s testimony and report will be precluded from evidence due to hearsay, and the officer probably didn’t witness the accident and is probably not a qualified expert to give opinion testimony. Also remember that being cited is not admissible in the personal injury case and, if you fight the citation and prevail, the citation is dismissed.
The fact of the matter, however, is that while the accident report may not be qualified to be entered into evidence in its entirety, it is still a major source of information used by attorneys and insurance adjusters in deciding who is at fault.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Select Law. With our extensive experience in the legal field, we know what it takes to win your case. Call us at (206) 237-8383 to arrange your FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced attorney (in person, phone, zoom or your residence/hospital).
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