How Do Police Officers Affect Auto Accident Fault?
After an auto accident in Arizona of any scope, it’s always a good idea to contact the police, even if there appear to be no injuries and your damages are minor. Responding to accidents is an extremely common duty for officers, so it’s never a bad idea to bring one onto the scene by calling 911. Failing to do so could significantly jeopardize your odds of being able to receive fair compensation, and could be treated as negligence. Note that while police officers do not determine fault, they do play a vital role in an eventual determination of liability, and can dramatically influence a court’s distribution of an auto accident’s comparative fault in either direction.
What Officers Actually Do
Once an officer arrives at the scene of the accident, they’ll set about gathering evidence by which to generate an incident police report of your collision. This will generally include an array of evidence, all of which will likely be acutely relevant to your case:
- Date and approximate time of the collision, and of when police were notified.
- The location of the accident.
- The number and types of vehicles involved.
- The likely type of accident (t-bone, jackknife, head-on, etc.).
- Road and weather conditions at the time.
- Recorded statements from passengers and witnesses.
- The physical and mental states of all involved parties.
Officers will also appraise whether or not traffic citations need to be issued. If they do, it’s a good idea to learn about how citations in auto accident cases will affect your ability to recover. With all of this information in hand, they’ll then file an official police report, which is extremely important for your case.
Due to the amount of valuable evidence it contains, you can (and should) request a copy of your auto accident police report through the Arizona Department of Public Safety, after waiting for at least 14 days to ensure that the report is appropriately filed and made available. This will generally require a minimal fee of approximately $9 as well, depending on which form you request.
Officers’ Roles in Arizona Accident Cases
Police officers may be asked to provide a deposition, which is similar to testifying in court—only without the “in court” part. During a deposition, both attorneys will have the opportunity to interview the officer under oath, both to gather general information and to determine whether the officer’s account could make them a valuable witness if your case ever goes to trial. When this occurs, the officer will be treated much like any other witness, so they won’t be singlehandedly determining fault.
ELG’s Arizona auto accident attorneys can help you sift through complex questions of fault and compensation, so give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule your free consultation today. We have the legal resources and experience to help you gather evidence to either corroborate a police report or point out potential mistakes and misinterpretations, maximizing the amount of compensation you’ll be eligible for while simultaneously minimizing the stress and hassle you’ll have to go through.