Can a Police Report Be Used Against You in a Car Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

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    In Pennsylvania, a police report can be used against you in multiple ways. To prepare for these challenges, you must be ready and take appropriate steps to protect your rights.

    Working with our team can provide invaluable assistance. While a police report might not be admissible as evidence in a trial, it can still damage your case. Police reports are usually important in the negotiation phase of your claim, long before the case gets to court. We can help you understand the implications of your police report and work to address any inaccuracies or biases in the report. We can also help you use the report to negotiate with insurance companies and secure the compensation you deserve.

    For a free case assessment, contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 709-6940.

    Can a Police Report from a Car Accident Be Used Against You in a Pennsylvania Lawsuit?

    According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3751(b)(4), police reports, particularly the parts containing the opinions and conclusions of the police officer, are deemed inadmissible in civil cases. This means it will not be allowed as evidence in a trial even if it contains relevant information. However, a lawsuit is more than just a trial, and the police report can still harm your case.

    One way a police report can be used against you is by highlighting inconsistencies between your initial account of the accident and your testimony during the lawsuit. If your story changes over time, it could cast doubt on your credibility and the veracity of your claims. For instance, if you initially told the police that you were not injured but later claimed to have suffered severe injuries, the defense could use this inconsistency to challenge your injury claims.

    Similarly, discrepancies between the police report and your testimony could lead to questions about the accuracy of your memory. Working with our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys is the best way to get all the facts in your case right. If you recall certain details differently than they were recorded in the police report, it may suggest that your memory of the event is flawed or unreliable.

    A police report may also indicate that a third party was liable for the accident. For example, if the report notes that a traffic light was malfunctioning at the time of the accident, this could shift some or all of the blame to the entity responsible for maintaining the traffic light.

    If the police report indicates that you received a ticket as a result of the accident, this could be used to suggest that you were at least partially at fault. Similarly, if the report notes that you were belligerent or aggressive following the accident, this could negatively impact your case, as it may influence the jury’s perception of you.

    How a Police Report Can Impact Negotiations in Your Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawsuit

    The police report can be particularly influential during insurance negotiations. Insurers often rely on these reports to assess claims and determine liability. If the report indicates that the other party was at fault, this will strengthen your position and likely lead to a more favorable settlement offer. However, it could also be used to identify potential witnesses to testify against you, or it might contain errors if the investigating officer was mistaken or confused at the scene.

    Even if the officer’s conclusions about fault cannot be introduced in court, they can still impact negotiations in other ways. The insurer will likely want to avoid the risk of a lawsuit, particularly if the report suggests their insured was at fault. In such cases, the police report can be a powerful bargaining chip, helping you secure a satisfying settlement.

    Given the potential influence of the police report, it is vital to ensure its accuracy. While at the scene, cooperate fully with the police. Provide a detailed account of the events but avoid speculating or admitting fault. If possible, take photographs, note down the details of the accident, and gather contact information from witnesses. This information can help corroborate your account and might be admissible as evidence where the police report is not.

    Can the Insurance Company Use a Police Report Against You in a Pennsylvania Car Accident Case?

    One of the primary ways an insurance company might use the police report is during the liability assessment phase. The report contains a wealth of information about the accident, including a narrative of events, diagrams of the scene, and statements from witnesses and parties involved. Insurers scrutinize this information to determine who was at fault for the accident.

    If the police report suggests that you were at fault, even partially, the insurance company might use this to argue that you should bear some or all of the responsibility for the accident. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws, if you are found to be partially at fault, your compensation could be reduced proportionally, significantly impacting your claim.

    Insurers can also use the police report to challenge the validity of your claim. For instance, if there’s a discrepancy between what you reported to the insurance company and what’s documented in the police report, insurers might use this inconsistency to dispute your claim. They might argue that you’re not credible or trying to exaggerate your damages, which could lead to a denial of your claim or a reduction in your compensation.

    During settlement negotiations, the police report can be a double-edged sword. If the report indicates that you were at fault or contributed to the accident, the insurance company might use this as leverage to offer a lower settlement amount. They might argue that since you were partially or fully responsible for the accident, you’re not entitled to the full compensation you’re seeking.

    Can Failing to File a Police Report Be Used Against You in a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawsuit?

    Not reporting a car accident to the police can have serious implications. In Pennsylvania, drivers who are involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or significant property damage are legally required to report the incident to the police. If you neglect to do so, you could be charged with a violation, which could further complicate the lawsuit and potentially damage your credibility in court.

    Even if the police did not respond to the accident, you are still obligated to file an accident report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) within five days of the incident. Failing to do so might result in the suspension of your driver’s license. In fact, all parties involved in the accident must file a report, regardless of who is at fault for the incident.

    Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys Can Help

    Contact The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for a free case review with our Chester County personal injury attorneys.

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    Philadelphia, PA 19102
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