08.21.17

How Much Weight Does a Police Report Carry In A Car Accident Lawsuit?

Posted in Vehicle Accidents at 3:41 pm by kevin

If you are in an automobile accident, it is generally recommended that you call law enforcement to the scene to fill out a police report. The police report is a statement prepared by the officer who arrives at the scene about the events of the accident.

What most people are surprised to find out is that police reports are typically not admissible if an automobile accident suit goes to trial. However, they are useful if you are involved in a personal injury suit. What you say to law enforcement concerning an accident can significantly affect your impending trial, if the case goes that far.

You can’t technically use a police report in a court of law to prove that someone injured you through their negligence. But a police report can help you or your Atlanta car accident attorney, to negotiate a settlement with the insurance provider and further your case to make them settle out of court. After an accident, it is always a good idea to obtain your own copy of the report by going to the police department where it is on file. The police report will often be available online as well.

 

How to use a police report to further your settlement negotiations

Although it’s inadmissible in court, a police report can be helpful should you have to negotiate to recover for your personal injuries in the litigation process. Before you begin your personal injury suit, you should collect all the pertinent information about your injuries including all medical records, the police report, and any other official documents about the case to use to draft a “demand letter.”

The demand letter is a written document that summarizes all the facts about the accident and injuries in full detail. It is also where the injured person demands to be compensated for their economic and non-economic damages.

The reason that the police report is important during the negotiation process is that it can provide proof that the other driver was deemed “at fault” and is therefore liable to pay for your injuries. Even though you can’t use it in court, it is an important document to use to try to settle the case before it escalates to trial, which is always a preferable method for both parties.

 

What can a police report do for your case?

The police report can help to strengthen your proof regarding the accident. It has all the necessary information that you will need like time, date, and any other witnesses that were available to provide an account. It will also include information about weather conditions or any other mitigating factors. The police report will also have contact information about any eyewitness accounts, so that if the case does proceed to trial, they can be called to testify about what they observed.

 

Why are police reports inadmissible in court?

Police reports are not admissible in court because they are considered “hearsay.” Hearsay is not admissible because it is:

  • Not a sworn statement
  • It is a statement that is made outside the confines of a courtroo
  • It is made by a person who doesn’t have eyewitness confirmation of the event
  • It is a statement made by a third party about another person’s actions or inactions

Although it’s filed by an officer of the law, a police report is considered hearsay because the officer was not there to witness the accident. They merely recorded what other people described of what they witnessed. The police officer did not have firsthand knowledge of the events, so they recorded the statements of those they questioned.

The statements that the police report holds are also not “sworn” statements. The people who were asked about the accident were not “sworn to tell the truth,” and therefore cannot be held liable if they did not.

So, although a police report might not help you during the trial phase of any personal injury suit resulting from an auto accident, it is an excellent tool for the negotiation process. Your personal injury lawyer can use the police report to establish who was at fault and to further their ability to reach a fair settlement. Never leave the scene of an accident without having a police report taken, even if it can’t be introduced at trial.

 

08.17.17

Tort Lawsuits Declining in the USA

Posted in Tort Reform at 10:15 am by kevin

There is this notion that Americans are the most litigious people in the world. However, a recent report by the Wall Street Journal is about to prove that that is not the case…anymore. In 2015, only two out of 1,000 people who are alleged victims of different kinds of civil wrongs, including faulty products or medical malpractice, have filed tort lawsuits in 2015. That figure is way below 1993 levels when 10 in 1,000 Americans sued for damages.

The WSJ report analyzed data from the National Center for State Courts, and the numbers are clear: Americans are filing fewer cases, but what is behind this dramatic dive?

What is a Tort?

A tort is a wrongful act, one that causes harm or injury to another and cause courts to impose liability.

Tort law aims to give the injured party relief for harm caused by others. It also seeks hold the responsible party accountable for the offense they committed and hopes to prevent others from committing acts that could prove harmful.

The afflicted party (plaintiff) usually seeks damages in the form of monetary compensation. Other remedies are also available including injunction and restitution.

There are three general categories that torts fall into:

Reasons for the Decline of Tort Lawsuits

It’s difficult to pinpoint the decline in the litigation industry down to just one factor. There are so many contributing causes for the drop in tort lawsuits, but here are some of the major reasons:

  • Cost

In most cases, personal injury attorneys don’t require clients to pay an upfront fee. Attorneys get paid a percentage of the money the client receives from the settlement or trial verdict. This is called a contingency fee agreement.

The fee an attorney receives depends on the cap set by the state. For example, lawyers in Michigan cannot get more than one-third of the total amount received by the client.

However, those are not the only costs a claimant will have to pay; there are ancillary fees involved as well including fees for the following: court filings, police reports, medical records (obtaining and preparing), expert witnesses, and copies of deposition transcripts.

It is possible that a lot of Americans find the costs associated with filing lawsuits too much.

  • Tort Reform

For years, a number of tort reforms seem to favor individuals and businesses from frivolous and fraudulent claims. In March, House Republicans advanced bills long supported by corporations and doctors, including putting a cap on medical malpractice awards. The changes limit the ability of some Americans to seek legal remedies from powerful institutions.

  • New Ways to Resolve Problems

More alternative dispute resolution options are becoming more accessible to people, including arbitration and pre-litigation mediation. With these, a number of complaints can be remedied without ever seeing a lawsuit being filed.

Plus, better safety technology has resulted in fewer road accidents. A number of states have also introduced new damages caps which make attorneys far less likely to take on risky cases.