Court Discusses Admissibility of Statements in Accident Reports Under Florida Law

In many cases in which parties are involved in a car accident, the police will investigate the collision and take statements from the drivers and passengers involved and any witnesses who observed the event. While such statements may contain helpful or incriminating evidence, it is unlikely that they can be introduced during a trial in the Florida courts. The reasoning behind precluding statements from a police report during a trial was recently discussed in a Florida case in which the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of an order denying her right to introduce such information. If you were injured in a car accident, it is important to retain a seasoned Florida personal injury attorney who will fight to help you protect your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant drove onto a sidewalk and struck and killed the plaintiff’s decedent. A Florida police officer that investigated the accident took statements from the defendant and her passenger and drafted a report that included the findings of his investigation, including the statements. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging wrongful death, and negligence claims. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion in limine, asking the court to preclude the accident report and the statements therein from admission into evidence. The court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration.

Grounds for Granting a Motion for Reconsideration

Under Florida law, in order for a motion for reconsideration to be granted, a party must show why the court should reevaluate its prior decision and must set forth strongly convincing law or facts that will persuade the court to reverse its prior ruling. Generally, a court will accept three grounds for reconsidering an order: a change in the controlling law, new evidence that was previously unavailable, or the need to prevent manifest injustice by correcting an error. The party asking the court to reconsider an order bears the burden of proving a reconsideration is warranted.

Admissibility of Statements in Accident Reports Under Florida Law

The court explained that a motion in limine is a motion asking the court to exclude evidence that is prejudicial before such evidence is actually offered. A court will grant a motion in limine in cases in which it is clear that the subject evidence is not admissible for any reason. In the subject case, the court found that under Florida law, accident reports are privileged, and therefore, such reports are prohibited from being introduced into evidence, as are the statements therein. Thus, the court found that the accident report was properly precluded from evidence via the motion in limine.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Florida Attorney

In many car accident cases, liability must be proven via circumstantial evidence, such as the observations of people who were involved in or saw the crash. If you were involved in a car accident, you should meet with an attorney to assess what evidence you must produce to recover damages. The knowledgeable Florida personal injury attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are skilled at helping injured parties seek just results via civil lawsuits, and if we represent you we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 800-283-7442 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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