Delaware Attorney Advises Auto Accident Victims Not To Rely On Police Reports
UPDATED: February 18, 2020
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If you've been involved in an auto accident, chances are that a police report will be filed. That report is supposed to provide an accurate description of the accident. However, according to one Delaware attorney, relying on police reports can be trouble.
Should someone rely on the police report?
That's the question we asked James Folsom, a Delaware attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury claims. His answer was an emphatic NO. He explained, "The bad part about the police report is that the policeman was not a witness to the accident. The policeman did not see what happened. All he can do is come in there and report back on what he saw and what he heard when he got there. So, he will draw his diagram after the accident of where the cars were sitting when he arrived."
Police officers must focus on other things
Folsom says that a police officer's first job first is to get the traffic moving on that highway. In other words, if the accident occurs in the middle of the road, his first duty is to get those cars off that road. Unfortunately, that may distract the officer from the accident itself. He explained, "[The officer] is not concerned about where the accident happened or what happened as much as he is to get you off the road first. After that point, he interviews both sides to get their interpretation of the accident and issues a citation to whomever he thinks was at fault."
Be your own detective
According to Folsom, being your own detective can help you in the long run. He told us, "If the officer issues a citation to the other driver, find out where and when that person has to go to court. That's very important because if you give that to your attorney, we can go to court and if he pleads guilty in a criminal case, then that's an admission that you can use in a civil trial. If he pleads no contest, you can't use it - even if the jury finds him guilty because that's just something that happened and is irrelevant as far as the civil case is concerned. But like I said, if the other driver gets up and says, 'Yes judge, I'm sorry, I ran the stop sign,' then that's an admission by a party opponent and it's admissible even though it looks like hearsay."
If you've been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Delaware auto accident attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.