Obtaining and Using a Police Report in Your Missouri Auto Accident
Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
It is a good idea to contact the responding officer or entity (county, city or state trooper) soon after the accident. If you know the name of the agency, then you can locate them in the phone book or on the internet and request a copy of the report. The agency may charge a small fee to cover photocopying and the agency may require that you appear in person to pick up the report. Depending on the agency, some will mail a copy of the report to you for no fee. Other suggestions about what to do following a car accident can be downloaded easily from our free “AllInjury” application for iPhone or Droid.
How Can a Police Report Help in an Injury Case?
A police report itself may not always be admissible in civil court proceedings, but it can go a long way toward gaining negotiation leverage in any personal injury dispute. During informal settlement discussions with opposing counsel or an insurance carrier, you or your attorney can use the facts and conclusions found in the police report such as:
- Circumstances of the incident, including the time of day, date, specific location and weather conditions at the time
- Sometimes preliminary assessment of fault, especially in motor vehicle accidents. For example, a responding officer may report a driver’s violation of state vehicle codes or whose carelessness may have caused the accident
In addition to providing leverage in negotiations, the police report often has identification information such as witnesses of the incident or accident and or who arrived
The police report is critical starting place for investigation
While the police report may list a citation or a violation, it is not the end-all determiner in liability in a car accident in Missouri. Missouri is a “fault” car insurance state which means that when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries and other losses stemming from a car accident, an injured Missouri driver, passenger or pedestrian may usually chose to file a claim with his or her own insurer or file a third party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. An injured victim may also file a lawsuit against the at-fault in court.
The police report is a report used by insurance companies as well as parties involved in mediation and settlement negotiations, however, the actual police report is not always admissible in court as evidence. Witnesses including the reporting officer can be questioned regarding their account of the events in statements, depositions and in testimony in trial. If you actually get to a court proceeding over your auto accident, then going alone without an attorney can be extremely complicated, for example, determining whether or not hearsay is involved in the police report and if it is admissible can be a multi-pronged step decision and frequently involves bring the “author” or the officer into court. Finding these witnesses and producing them for depositions and trial can be a complicated, time consuming process—all of which an attorney does for you, on your behalf.
Our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm are experienced car accident attorneys. If you were given a case number of identification number for an incident report, we can take steps to get that report, evaluate it for witness contact information and begin investigation into your claim on your behalf. We are available seven days a week for consultations and to answer your questions toll free (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681