One of the first things that you do when you’ve been in a car accident is to call the police. At the scene of the accident, the police officer’s duty is to make sure everyone is safe and to manage the logistics like automobile removal, traffic movement, and to document the accident. After the accident, however, they may also have a role in helping to determine fault.
After a car accident is reported to the police, officers are responsible for preparing a police report about what happened. A police officer will interview the drivers and any witnesses about the car accident, asking a series of questions designed to piece together an accurate account of what occurred. The police report may contain a statement about who was at fault in the accident based on the police officer’s professional judgment, but many police reports do not include a determination of fault. It is important to understand that even if a police report states who was responsible for a car accident, this does not automatically mean that the person will be held legally responsible (or “liable”) for damages in a subsequent lawsuit.
As part of a police officer’s investigation into a car accident, he or she may issue one or more traffic citations. A traffic citation is a notice issued by a law enforcement officer that accuses a driver of violating a traffic law such as exceeding the speed limit or making an unlawful turn. It may indicate that a penalty such as a fine or deduction of points has been or will be assessed against the driver. A traffic citation may also require a driver to appear in traffic court. While a traffic citation will not ultimately prove who is legally responsible for a car accident in a subsequent lawsuit, it may be used as evidence that the driver was negligent. This will be discussed more thoroughly below.
In certain circumstances, the police officer may be asked to come in to the court room as a witness in your case. Their perspective can be very helpful in supporting and elaborating on the details of the police report, citing the conditions surrounding the accident and those involved.
Contact An Attorney
As always, when you’re in a car accident that you fell was caused by the negligence of another driver, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced attorneys to handle your case and guide you through it.