Suppose that a police report says that a driver was at fault for a car accident but in fact the driver wasn't. Is the driver screwed if the driver takes it to court, or does the driver still have a hope of proving it wasn't that person's fault?

  • 2
    You did not even mention the country you're in. Impossible to say. If there is proper rule of law, you can still win in court but will be harder because the experts on the scene put their assessment down.
    – o.m.
    Apr 12, 2021 at 4:35
  • 1
    As o.m. says, we'd really have to know the jurisdiction. A current (downvoted) answers seems to address the case of California, but for all we know you're in Zimbabwe. And keep in mind that what you think constitutes "fault" isn't necessarily what the courts and the law think constitutes fault. If, for example, I'm making a nominally valid turn and someone in the lanes I'm turning through/into is fiddling with their radio, doesn't see me, and doesn't slow down and smashes into me mid-turn, then I'm likely the one at fault. I was responsible for ensuring I could perform the maneuver safely. Apr 12, 2021 at 5:32
  • Generally police should record facts; their conclusions from the facts will usually not be relevant. Exceptions: If you admit your fault, the police report can say “X admitted he was at fault”, because the admitting is a fact. And if the police is allowed to hand out on-the-spot fines, that will be done based on their conclusions, and you might be forced to take action yourself to overcome this.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:50
  • Going on what @zibadawatimmy said, some countries assign fault differently. For example, in the U.S. in a rear end collision, the driver at fault is always the person who is at the furthest back of the collision in a pile up. In Japan, that person is only partially at fault (Japan always assigns fault to all drivers involved, typically with the most of the percentage going to what would typically be the sole responsible party in a crash in the U.S.).
    – hszmv
    Apr 13, 2021 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


Most states have a per se bar on the admission of a traffic offense resolution in a case seeking personal injuries from a traffic accident, in order to discourage overlitigation of traffic offenses due to collateral consequences which they could otherwise have.

The police report is also usually hearsay, and so only the live testimony of the officers would be admitted.

Normally, fault in a traffic accident is not something upon which expert testimony is permitted as the decision is vested in the finder of fact (usually a jury in the U.S., but sometimes a judge in a bench trial).


Police reports are generally considered inadmissible in court when they address things juries are competent to assess on their own. Most police reports regarding car accidents are inadmissible in court because they are inadmissible hearsay when the accident is not personally witnessed by police.

The police report, in your case, is likely inadmissible in court, since most accidents are not witnessed by police.

  • 3
    Nice to see a new contributor, bur how did you guess the applicable jurisdiction? There are people from all over the world, and the detailed rules differ. The police report may become something akin to expert testimony.
    – o.m.
    Apr 12, 2021 at 4:40
  • Police reports is general contain more than just hearsay but also list facts and conclusions, making them expert testimony
    – Trish
    Apr 12, 2021 at 7:29
  • @Trish a general duties cop is not an expert. A traffic investigator might be.
    – Dale M
    Apr 12, 2021 at 9:37
  • In what case has a police report ever been accepted as expert testimony?
    – bdb484
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:23
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    @Trish A police report is not expert testimony and is generally inadmissible hearsay when offered for the truth of the matters stated therein. It can't substitute for officer testimony. It could be offered to show that the officer was on the scene contemporaneously, which isn't the truth of the matter asserted therein. The facts and conclusions are all hearsay. The conclusions are also probably not admissible due to lack of relevance. The officer can testify as to what he saw on the scene, however, even if it isn't the accident itself and can use the police report to refresh recollection.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 12, 2021 at 22:08

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