Baltimore car accident lawyers

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

After a car accident, drivers often need copies of the police crash report to file insurance claims and possibly begin lawsuits. While the report might be very useful to you, it might also be useful to the opposing party.

Either party may use the police report from a car accident in building a lawsuit. Whether or not the report is used against you depends on the contents of the report. Generally, a police report is not admissible as evidence in a court of law because it violates the rule against hearsay evidence. However, defendants might still find ways to use the information from the report or even work around the rules to enter the report into evidence. Your attorney can help you determine the best way to defend yourself against damaging information from the police report. We might fight to keep the report out of the courtroom altogether because it is almost entirely made up of hearsay. Alternatively, we might undermine the report by presenting stronger evidence that refutes the defendant’s claims about you.

Contact our Maryland car accident lawyers for a free, private case evaluation by calling us at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

Is an Opposing Party in a Maryland Car Accident Lawsuit Allowed to Use the Police Report as Evidence Against You

On the one hand, the defendant cannot use the police report as evidence because it violates the rule against hearsay evidence. Police reports are based on information compiled by the police after the accident, and most of the information is considered second-hand because it was not personally observed by the officers writing the report. As such, the report is often almost entirely hearsay information.

Often, people do not try to get the reports themselves admitted into evidence. Instead, they use the reports as a guide to evidence that can be admitted into court. For example, the police report might contain statements from a witness who said you caused the accident. Instead of using the report to get this information into court, the defendant might track down the witnesses and have them testify. Testimony from the witnesses who personally observed the accident is admissible and not hearsay.

If the defendant is determined to use the report as evidence to undermine your claims, they might find a way. As discussed in more detail below, numerous exceptions exist to the evidentiary rules against hearsay. If the defendant can find a good exception that covers the police report, they might use it against you in court.

Remember, the use of the report as evidence goes both ways. If our Aberdeen car accident attorneys believe the report is more helpful to your case, we can find ways to use it as evidence.

How A Police Report Might Be Used Against You in a Car Accident Lawsuit in Maryland

Generally, the police report from a car accident is inadmissible as evidence because it violates the rule against hearsay. However, the hearsay rule is somewhat famous for its numerous exceptions. The defendant in your car accident case might find an exception that covers the report and use it in court.

Exceptions for Your Statements

According to the Maryland Rules of Evidence Rule § 5-803(a), hearsay information might be admissible in court if it is a statement by a party-opponent. Under this exception, the person trying to introduce hearsay evidence may do so if the evidence consists of statements made by the opposing party.

Under this rule, the statement must be made by the opposing party, their representative, or by someone authorized by the opposing party to make such a statement. Police reports often include details and statements provided by the drivers. This means your statements to the police that they included in their report might be admissible as evidence against you, depending on what you said.

Exception for Public Records

There is another exception for hearsay evidence that is considered public records, according to Rule § 5-803(b)(8). A report may be considered part of public record if it details the activities of a public agency (i.e., the police), matters observed by agency officials pursuant to their legally imposed duties, factual findings of the agency, or certain court orders. In many cases, police reports from car accidents meet this exception.

However, even if the police report meets the public record exception, there might be other reasons why it should not be admitted into evidence. Your attorney can help you keep the police report out of the courtroom if it would otherwise be used against you.

Exception for Records of Regular Activity

A police report might also be admitted into evidence under the hearsay exception for records of regularly conducted activity under Rule § 5-803(b)(6). This is often referred to as the business records exception.

To meet this exception, the records must be made near in time to the events being documented by someone with knowledge of the events and in the course of regular business activities. These records should be kept as part of normal business activities, not specifically prepared for legal purposes or litigation.

How to Prevent a Police Report From Being Used Against You in a Maryland Car Accident Lawsuit

We can take steps to avoid police reports being used against you. First, you must be careful about what you say to the police if and when they interview you for their report. Your statements may be considered admissible hearsay.

Even if certain parts of the police report meet the above exceptions to the hearsay rule, certain parts might not. Police reports are compiled from second-hand information gathered by law enforcement officials. Often, the information in these reports contains multiple levels of hearsay information. To be admissible, each level of hearsay must meet some exception to the hearsay rule.

We might instead argue the information in the report is not important enough to be admissible. Police reports are not always packed with important details. Depending on the accident and the extent of the police investigation, there might be very few useful details in the accident report. In such a case, we might object to using the report on grounds of relevancy. We might also claim that other evidence conveys the same information in the report, and the report is not necessary and will only waste time.

Call Our Maryland Car Accident Attorneys for Help Today

Contact our Baltimore car accident lawyers for a free, private case evaluation by calling us at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.