I was involved in a car accident and was hit from behind. The police report has me coming from a freeway I wasn’t on and said so in my initial statement. Ultimately, the police report has me at fault. Can I get the report amended and if so, can I sue the person who hit me?
–Sherry, West Covina, CA
The person who hit you was at fault. The problem is that the police report says you were at fault. You’re concerned because the police officer is completely wrong and has done you an injustice.
People wonder why the hearsay laws exist. Why don’t all conversations come into evidence?
People wonder why people can’t speculate on the jury stand. Why can’t speculation come into evidence?
Your situation is a perfect example of why the rules of evidence forbid speculative testimony and hearsay. The police officer’s out-of-court writing which blames you (the police report) is hearsay and is inadmissible. The police officer’s conclusion that you are at fault is based on speculation. He didn’t witness the accident. Since he doesn’t have personal knowledge of what happened (he wasn’t a witness), the police officer cannot testify to these speculative and prejudicial conclusions. They are inadmissible. Finally, I believe the police officer’s conclusions invade the province of the jury. Only the jury can decide who is at fault. Not the police officer.
Hence, yes, you can sue and I believe the police officer’s report is meaningless. It will damage you only in that the insurance carrier for the defendant is unlikely to negotiate with you because they rely on the inadmissible police report when making settlement decisions.
This will require you to go through the entire court system and a probable trial. I am happy I could give you some good news, but sorry for the bad news.