All too often accident victims, personal injury lawyers, and insurance adjusters place too much emphasis on the fault determination contained in a police report. As a result, accident victims with meritorious claims are frequently denied the compensation they deserve. There are many reasons why a police report can be wrong. For example, if one person is severely injured, their side of the story may never get to the investigating officer. Also, not all witnesses to the accident wait for the investigating officer to arrive. And sometimes investigating officers simply do not do a good job investigating the accident. Good legal work often requires going beyond the initial police report and doing your own investigation.
One good example of this is a case we recently handled where a young lady was driving home through a construction zone and collided into the rear of an industrial sized street sweeper, resulting in the total loss of her SUV and compound fractures to her leg. The investigating officer, who never talked to my client because she was rushed to the hospital, placed full blame on our client and issued her multiple tickets. After discussing the case with our client, investigating the accident scene, and looking at video of the street sweeper at work, it became clear to us that the police officer was wrong and fault for the car accident lied solely with the construction company operating the street sweeper. Through litigation we were able to establish the following very crucial facts: (1) the street sweeper was operating on the shoulder but partially protruded into the lane of traffic- approximately 2 feet- at the time of the accident, (2) operation of the street sweeper kicked up lots of dust into the air masking the fact that it was partially operating in a lane of traffic, and (3) the street sweeper failed to provide adequate warnings to oncoming motorists that it was partially operating in a lane of traffic as required under state law.
In the end, by looking beyond the conclusions reached by the investigating police officer in his crash report, conducting our own thorough investigation of the accident scene, and having knowledge of the relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards, the personal injury lawyers at Lovins Trosclair were able to take a case that many personal injury attorneys would turn down and instead negotiated a substantial confidential settlement.