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Questioning the police officer in an auto accident

Questioning the police officer in an auto accident

The following outline is for information that your personal injury lawyer might ask of a police officer who investigated a car accident.

This outline might be used as a checklist for an interview of the officer early on in the lawsuit, or it might also be used for questioning the officer at trial. If it is used at trial, then many of the questions here would not be used, but it still shows a reasonable general outline for an examination.

Officer data

What is your name?
What is your police agency, job title, duties, and station?
Who was the “principal investigating officer” on this accident?
Were there other police officers present or involved in the investigation? If so, what are their names and for what agencies do they work?
Does this officer have any special police training or training for vehicle accident investigation?

Call data

When did you receive the call on this car accident?
From whom did you receive the call?
If from dispatcher, what governmental units were involved?
If from witness or driver, what was said?
What time did each officer arrived at the scene?

Police report

Get a copy of the official police reports and records on this accident.
Ask to see this officer’s notes.
Are there other police records?

Photos

Any pictures taken? By whom? (There may have been photos by drivers or freelance photographers on the scene, and the police may have copies of them.)
When were the photos taken?
Was your car equipped with a video camera?
Did you, or any officer at the scene, have a video camera running on the way to the accident scene or at the accident scene?

Diagrams

Did you prepare, as a part of your duties, a diagram of the scene of the accident?
Could you make a drawing of what you found and the measurements that you made?
Do you know of any other diagrams or maps of the accident scene?

What was found on arrival at the scene of the car accident

Location?
Weather?
Road surface conditions?
Visibility?
Any obstructions to vision for each driver?
What were traffic control devices and signs for each driver?
What was the road like:
    How many driving lanes each direction?
    What was the width of the driving surface?
    What was the width of the shoulders?
    What was the type of surface (blacktop, concrete, gravel)?
Was there any indication of the paths the vehicles took in colliding? If so, what?
Was there debris on road? What was it? Where was it?
Was other property damaged (e.g., light pole)?
What was the point of impact?
How did you determine this point of impact?
Have you had special training or experience in determining the point of impact?
What was the location and position of the vehicles when you arrived?
What portions of each vehicle were damaged?
Do you have opinions as to which portions of the vehicles collided?
How did each vehicle leave the scene?
Was there any investigation or determination whether any vehicle had any mechanical defects before the accident?

Speed

What was the speed limit for each driver?
Did drivers say how fast each driver was driving?
Did witnesses say how fast each driver was driving?
Did you make a skid test or other test to determine speed?
What is your opinion as to the speed of each vehicle?
Upon what facts is that opinion based?
Do you have special training/experience in determining speed?

Drivers and owners

What was the location and position of the drivers and passengers when you arrived?
Apparent injuries of each person? What were the injuries you observed?
Did you determine who was driving each vehicle? Who?
How did you determine this person was driving this vehicle?
Did you determine who was the owner of each vehicle? Who?
How did you determine this person was the owner of this vehicle?

Intoxication

Were alcohol or drugs indicated?
Any tests made? If so, what tests, who took the tests, and who has the results of the tests?
Your opinion as to whether driving was impaired as a result of alcohol or drugs?

Witnesses

What are the names, addresses, and phones of drivers, passengers, and owners of vehicles?
Name, address, phone of every non-vehicle occupant witness:
Was there a fire department unit there? Which one? Why were they there?
Was there an ambulance there? Which one? What did personnel do?
Was there a tow truck there? Which one? What did they do?

Conversations

What did each driver, passenger, and witness say to you about the accident?

Officer’s other opinions

Do you have opinions about:
    the causes of the accident?
    any impairments of drivers?
    whether injured persons were wearing seatbelts?
    the adequacy of vehicles’ lights, brakes, or any other mechanical condition?
    the visibility of traffic control signs or speed limit signs?

Injuries

Did you observe any injuries to anyone?
Was emergency or first aid administered? If so, by whom and what was done?
Any complaints of injury by anyone? If so, by whom and when?
How did each injured person leave the scene?

Traffic charges

Where any driver violation charges made? If so, what was the charge, what was the disposition, and did you testify?

Subsequent events

Since the car accident, have you been back to the scene? If so, when, with whom, and what was done?
Since the car accident, has there been any further investigation done either you or any other officer? If so, what?

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