Police/Traffic Reports in Bicycle Accident Claims – NOT Determinative!
Most people (and many attorneys) erroneously believe that when the police report places the other party at fault for a traffic collision, the other party’s insurance must pay for any damages/injuries. This is incorrect.
The fact of the matter is that police reports are not admissible as evidence in court. The report is considered to be “hearsay,” because it does not consist of in-the-courtroom testimony from a witness. The jury would be allowed to hear about what the officer heard and saw, but since the officer (almost always) doesn’t arrive at the scene of the accident until after the accident is already over, there is not much for the officer to say.
In some cases, the fact that a report is not admissible is good for a cyclist, specifically in a case where the report states that the cyclist was negligent in causing the accident. Conversely, where the report places the driver of a vehicle at fault for causing a bicycle-auto collision, the cyclist might wish to use the report as evidence, but will be barred from doing so.
Thus, in negotiations with an insurance company for damages or injuries arising out of a bicycle accident, the report is merely a tool to be used in the negotiation process. In some cases, certain parts of the report may be used as evidence, but it takes a skilled bicycle attorney to spot such opportunities.