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Police Reports Play an Important Role in Auto Accident Cases

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Oct 6, 2016 |


Make sure there is a police report for your car accident. A police report provides important information about your case, such as the date and location of the accident, a description of the accident, the persons and vehicles involved, the names of potential witnesses, the weather conditions and other circumstances of the accident. It can be exceptionally helpful or harmful in your personal injury action. If you disagree with the substance of the facts in the report, you should attempt to have the report amended by contacting the police department that issued the report.

Below is a recent interesting decision regarding the improper use of a police report by plaintiff’s counsel in a trial:

In Manata v. Pereira, 2014 WL 2780088, the Appellate Division reversed a $350,000 verdict for Plaintiff because the Plaintiff’s attorney improperly cross-examined the Defendant through questioning the substance of a police report, which was not offered into evidence. The case dealt with an automobile-pedestrian collision where the Defendant-Driver and the Plaintiff-Pedestrian disputed whether Plaintiff was walking in the crosswalk, or the middle of the block, when she was struck. The police did not respond to the scene of the accident but prepared a report after-the-fact. The report included only Plaintiff’s version of the accident even though Defendant claimed he spoke to the police as well. Without offering the report into evidence, Plaintiff’s counsel used the report in cross-examination and closing, to impeach Defendant with his alleged omission of the version of events that he later asserted at trial. The Appellate Division held that the cross-examination was improper since Plaintiff’s counsel conveyed through his questioning the substance of the unadmitted report, as evidence.