We began looking last time at the admissibility of government accident reports in personal injury litigation. Two important points we noted last time are that it is only factual findings which are potentially admissible in court, and that the admissibility of these findings depends upon their reliability, as determined by several important factors.
Government reports can potentially be used not only in personal injury claims, but also in product liability claims when there is evidence of a defect in the report. Regardless of the details of the case, a party who seeks to introduce a government accident investigation report into evidence must establish the reliability of the report’s factual findings. Depending on the nature and details of the investigation, this may be more or less difficult. By the same token, a party who objects to the admission of this evidence has to demonstrate why it is improper to admit the report as evidence.
Both plaintiffs and defendants can find themselves on the side of seeking to introduce a government accident report into evidence or opposing its admission as evidence; it isn’t always plaintiffs who seek to introduce government reports into evidence. It depends on which party stands to benefit from the report, and exactly how.
In cases where a government accident report is available, the report is usually not going to be the only source of evidence available, and it is important for accident victims to seek out relevant, reliable evidence wherever they can find it so that they can build the strongest possible case for liability. An experienced attorney can help an accident victim to make the best possible use of the evidence available.