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

One of the first things people involved in car crashes think to do after the proverbial dust has settled is file a police report. This makes sense because individuals want some kind of record of an accident taking place to be made. However, individuals may be worried that such a report will come back to haunt them in a car accident lawsuit they file at some point later in time.

In general, a police report cannot be used as evidence in a trial during a car accident lawsuit because it is considered hearsay. However, that does not mean that a police report cannot be used against you in other ways. Opposing counsel may use the report to bolster their arguments or poke holes in yours. That being said, we can use police reports in the exact same way, so the playing field is even.

For a free review of your claim, call our Arkansas car accident lawyers at (479) 316-0438.

Are Police Reports Allowed as Evidence in Arkansas Car Accident Lawsuits?

In Arkansas, police reports are not allowed to be used as direct evidence in a car accident case. This is because police reports fall under the category of hearsay, which is not allowed in court under Arkansas Rule of Evidence 802. Per Rule 801, Hearsay is a statement made outside the courtroom used for the purpose of proving its contents true in court. For example, suppose someone sees you get struck by a car and then tells their friend that you, “just got hit by a car!” If the friend then testified in court that the witness told them the plaintiff got struck by a car, that would be hearsay because the statement was said outside of court and it is being offered to prove that the plaintiff was hit by a car.

Police reports are considered out-of-court statements and, therefore, hearsay. While many public records are considered admissible hearsay, police reports are specifically not allowed to be used in court under Rule 803(8)(i). While this means that you cannot introduce one yourself to help your case, it also means that opposing counsel cannot introduce a police report as evidence to try to hurt your case. If they do, our Arkansas car accident lawyers can object on the grounds that the report is hearsay.

How Can a Police Report Be Used in an Arkansas Car Accident Lawsuit?

Although police reports cannot be used as direct evidence in a claim, there are other ways that they can help or hinder your case. Again, remember that both sides of the case have access to these tools, so we can use the same things that your opponent can to try to counter their tactics.

Improving A Claim

Police reports are often used by lawyers when preparing their arguments before trial. They frequently have many important details that lawyers can be clued in to look for. For example, if a police report says that a certain individual saw an accident happen before their eyes, the lawyer can use the information in the report to get in touch with the witness. Note, though, that opposing counsel can do the same thing to try to find details that help their client.

Contradictory Statements

While hearsay cannot be admitted as evidence off the bat, it can be shown in court to try to disprove something a person says on the stand. The reason this works is because the statement is not being used as evidence to prove what it says is true. Instead, the statement is being used to disprove what someone else said.

For example, if the defendant claims they were entirely focused on the road when the accident happened, you can introduce a police report that says they were seen with their eyes glued to their phone. Similarly, a police report can be used against you to try to disprove something a witness you put on the stand says.

Refresh Recollection

When examining a witness, one of the things an attorney is allowed to do is “refresh the recollection” of the witness. Often, trials happen well after the events from which it arose took place. For that reason, combined with the pressure of being in court under oath, witnesses often forget things they said in depositions or previously told attorneys. Accordingly, lawyers can do things to jolt a witness’s memory and get them back on track. Police reports are one of the things that can be used for that purpose. If an attorney has a witness on the stand who cannot remember something mentioned in a police report, the lawyer can show the witness the report – or any piece of writing for that matter – to get them to remember what they saw.

What is Found in Arkansas Police Reports?

Plaintiffs worried that a police report might be used against them in court may also want to know what exactly is in these reports. Below, our Arkansas car accident lawyers have compiled a list of things present in police reports so that you know what defense attorneys may try to glean from them.

Date and Location

The date of the car crash and where it took place will be in a police report. This information is generally agreed upon by the parties, so it is somewhat unlikely that it will be used against your claim.

Persons Involved

Police reports also list individuals involved in a crash. A defense attorney may try to use that information against you if their client is not listed in the report.

Explanation of the Crash

Another thing police reports have in them is a diagram or other detailing of the crash. This is something that could be used to try to hinder your case if you allege that a crash happened in a certain manner and the defense wants to try to disprove that claim.

Talk to Our Arkansas Car Accident Lawyers About Your Case Today

Our team of Benton County car accident lawyers offers free case reviews when you reach out to us at (479) 316-0438.