The admissibility of Police Reports in Maryland is limited to the information obtained at the time of the accident. Much of this information cannot be admitted as evidence in court, as it is considered hearsay.
In Maryland, hearsay is “a statement made by someone other than the person on the witness stand that is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.” Anything that falls under this rule may not be used as evidence in court, with a few exceptions. When police report on an accident or incident in Maryland, they collect information from witnesses. However, most likely the officer did not actually witness the accident or incident. For this reason, much of the information contained within the report is considered hearsay, and therefore, inadmissible.
In some cases, portions of information from police reports may be admitted as exceptions to the hearsay rule. The admissibility of police reports in court is never guaranteed. The information obtained, and/or data compilations that meet a certain criteria will weigh strongly on whether or not the report is accepted. For example, there are exceptions for records of regularly conducted business, as well as for public records. Still, the court maintains the right to deny admission if a report does not appear trustworthy.
AT THE SCENE
When an officer arrives, they will talk with the parties involved, speak with any witnesses, take photographs or draw pictures to help document the scene of the accident. Their reports contain a variety of information; however, it’s important to understand that no two reports are the same. Every police department is likely to have their own form and their own way of generating the reports. If you are able, make sure you are also taking lots of photographs of your car, the position it’s in, the other car, and any other pertinent geographic information, such as where the accident took place.
The following information will be useful:
- The identifying information for the involved parties, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information
- The date, time, and location of the crash
- Contact information for witnesses who agree to provide testimony
- The statements from the involved parties and the witnesses
- The locations of the damages the vehicles sustained
- Weather, lighting, and roadway conditions
- A diagram and/or photograph of the accident
- Information on any issued citations as a result of violated laws
- Opinions as to who is liable for the accident
ACCEPTED OR NOT ACCEPTED
Even if police reports are not accepted as evidence in court, they might be useful. The details included can point attorneys in the direction of other, more admissible evidence, such as names of more witnesses, a drawing at the scene of the accident, vehicle make, model and color and whether or not there were injuries sustained in the accident.
A police report can also be used to jog a witness’ memory, especially if the incident occurred months or years before the trial. Similarly, it can be used to impeach a witness if their testimony doesn’t align with the report.
The hearsay rule is complicated, and therefore the admissibility of Police Reports in court is also complicated. We would be happy to navigate the legal process with you. Our goal is to provide our clients with caring and compassionate legal services that can compete with the powerful legal teams hired by hospitals, corporations, and insurance companies. Our attorneys have a proven record of taking on and beating the lawyers so you may win your award,