Are Police Reports Admissible in Injury Cases in Boston?
Police reports often prove crucial in Boston injury cases. While these reports are official, many people might not be aware that Massachusetts limits its uses as evidence.
Fortunately, an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer will know the best ways to employ your police report. The information contained in a police report it’s considered hearsay, that is, a statement made out of court, and is typically prevented from being admitted as evidence. However, there are exceptions for certain pieces of information from a report that can be admitted even though it is considered hearsay. There are also many other ways a police report can support a victim’s injury case rather than just acting as evidence.
If you suffered an injury on account of another person, our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you determine what is admissible from your police report. Contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 for a free assessment of your case.
Can Police Reports Be Admitted as Evidence in a Boston Injury Case?
Police reports can be incredibly useful in a Boston personal injury case. Police reports often contain a thorough description of the accident and provide a great starting point for your attorney to begin investigating your injury case. However, there are limitations to using a police report as evidence in a Boston personal injury trial.
Massachusetts Rules of Evidence and Hearsay
Like all states, Massachusetts has detailed rules of evidence that dictate the types of evidence that can be used in a personal injury trial. The Massachusetts Rules of Evidence also have strict limitations on using evidence that contains hearsay statements. Statements made outside of court are hearsay and barred from being introduced as evidence under Massachusetts Rule of Evidence 802. However, several exceptions to the hearsay rule can allow certain pieces of reliable evidence containing hearsay to be admitted in a trial.
Exceptions for Public Records and Reports
The hearsay exception most likely to apply to a police report is Massachusetts Rule of Evidence 803(8), the exception for official/public records and reports. This rule carves out an exception for hearsay made by public officers in the performance of their official duties and is often used as grounds for admitting information contained in a police report. Rule 803(6), the exception for business and hospital records, can also be used to argue that evidence from a police report should be admitted. This exception allows hearsay to be admitted if it was made in the regular course of the officer’s business and made in good faith.
Unfortunately, much of the information concerning the personal injury at issue will not be admissible under these exceptions. In Massachusetts, records of investigation, including an officer’s judgment and opinions concerning the cause and effect of the accident and witnesses’ accounts of the accident, are not admissible as evidence in a public record. However, that does not mean that police reports cannot be used to admit other pieces of information that could be useful in a trial.
Evidence from a Police Report that Can Be Admitted
The narrative section of a police report will likely be barred from being admitted as evidence. Still, there are other sources of information on a police report that can be admitted despite being considered hearsay. Under Rule 803(8), if a fact contained in the report is a matter of public record, there is no limitation on its use as evidence. For instance, names, addresses, date and time of the accident, and insurance information are some examples of primary facts that could be admitted under the exception to the hearsay rule. Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can help you determine how your police report can be used to support your case.
Are There Other Uses for a Policy Report in a Boston Injury Case?
While police reports might be limited as evidence, there are numerous other ways that they can be useful in your Boston personal injury case. Police reports often provide the best starting point to begin investigating your case. From the details contained in the report, your attorney can start formulating a theory of how the accident occurred and the best ways to prove it. Police reports can identify witnesses that could testify in your case and provide other leads for evidence that can be admitted at trial. Further, police reports tend to be much more vital to settlement negotiations with insurance companies.
A police report can also be used to refresh the recollection of the officer that took the report while they are testifying on the stand. As long as the officer has an independent memory of the case, almost any document can be used to refresh their recollection. However, witnesses are usually allowed to read the report they made if they forget the event’s details.
Perhaps most importantly, a police report can be used to challenge the truthfulness of statements made by other witnesses testifying against you. For example, if a defendant testifies that an accident occurred a certain way that places the blame on you, but the police report contains a completely different statement, the report can be used to show that the defendant’s story is inconsistent and is, therefore, untrustworthy. Our Salem personal injury lawyers can help you get the full benefit of the information contained in your police report.
How Can I Obtain a Copy of My Boston Police Report?
Obtaining a police report for your injury case is vital to recovering compensation for your injuries. Fortunately, it is relatively convenient for Boston injury victims to get a copy of their police report. You can use the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles portal to order a copy of your report online. This way, there is no need for you to visit the Boston Police Department in person to collect your report, but a copy will cost $20. Our Somerville personal injury lawyers can help you if you are having trouble obtaining a copy of your report.
Our Boston Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you suffered a personal injury, our Worchester personal injury lawyers can help you get your police report and determine its best uses. For a free case review, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.