Police Reports are Useful but not admissible in Maryland car and Truck Accident cases

On many occasions prospective personal injury clients have appeared in my office and explained to me that the insurance company has "accepted liability in their case."

I invariably smile and say what proof do you have of that? Sometimes the explanation is that they were verbally told this by an insurance adjuster. Others, it is the fact that their vehicle is being repaired. When I challenge these "acceptances" the fallback position is the police report.

Now to be clear police reports when correctly written can be highly useful. They can list locations, weather conditions, times of day, witnesses and injuries. They even can offer an ultimate opinion on legal responsibility but none of these characteristics makes the reports self-authenticating and admissible in court.

When you need the substance of the report you need the officer plain and simple. Otherwise, all of its findings are objectionable. Parties can stipulate to the police report's admissibility but who is going to do that if it is to their disadvantage? Officers sometimes issue citations to the at-fault drivers but the fact of these citations is not admissible in Maryland absent that at-fault driver admitting guilt to the citation in court!

So police reports can be useful in persuading insurance carriers to take responsibility but don't think they can in and of themselves win your personal injury case.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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