My insurance company want me to take the driver of the other car to small claims court. Will my pictures be good enough to win?

I was  involved in a minor car accident. This happen on a two way street parking on both sides of street. I was making a left hand turn into a Mcdonalds parking lot had signal on when a car hit me on the back passengers door and rear tire. When the Police officer arrived he took my statement. I picked up the accident report the officer wrote I was at fault on the report. My husband is a Police Officer we found out the other driver or passenger in his car has a brother who is a Police Officer so we believe the officer that arrived at the scene knew the brother and is blaming me for this accident (we cannot prove this someone slipped up and told my husband). First off my husband says as a police officer if he does not witness the accident you cannot blame anyone on a report you just write both statements. I also took 16 photos at the accident before the officer arrived and this is how the cars stayed until he arrived. My problem comes from his insurance company being the officer wrote I was at fault they only want to give me 40%. My insurance company deny his claim after seeing my photos but there company after seeing my photos still keeps going back t what the officer wrote on the report.

Asked on May 28, 2009 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Small Claims court is based on credibility of witnesses and the quality of the evidence presented. The pictures you took as long as they are properly authenticated at trial are not hearsay. A police report is hearsay since it was written by a third party and usually not admissible without the cop coming to court. However in New York, small claims cases allow some hearsay so the judge or arbitrator may allow it in. Object to the police report coming in on the basis of hearsay. If he lets it in which he probably will, You just have to testify to your side of the story and have any witnesses present that were there if any. Then the Defendant will tell the other side of the story and you can question the person as to whether his brother is on the police force or not and whether he told this to the reporting officer at the scene. Even though you can not prove what happened, you can tell the judge or arbitratror hearing the case that based on the testimony and your pictures, it could only have happened the way you stated. You never know how the arbitrator will rule and if you get the police report kept out.

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The saying about a picture being worth a thousand words might be an understatement, now, with how cheap talk has gotten.  But it isn't about quantity, really, it's about quality, in both cases.

This is why you need to bring the police report and all those photos to an experienced lawyer in your area.  Each state's law can be different, and I'm not a New York lawyer; without the facts, I can't give a more definite opinion.  But this definitely sounds worth looking into.


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