Question: Are Indiana crash reports prepared by police officers admissible at trial?
Answer: These crash reports contain witness statements that are which are hearsay and therefore must have an exception to the hearsay rule for their admission at trial. However, there are exceptions to the admissibility of public records that includes: investigative reports by police and other law enforcement personnel, except when offered by an accused in a criminal case; investigative reports prepared by or for a public office, when offered by it in a case in which it is a party; factual findings offered by the government in a criminal case; and factual findings resulting from a special investigation of a particular complaint, case, or incident, except when offered by an accused in a criminal case. However, most crash cases are not criminal.
Therefore, most crash reports are inadmissible hearsay; moreover, these reports do not merely address routine, ministerial, objective, non-evaluative matters in non-adversarial setting, as these reports are usually generated during investigation into accident that has resulted in an injury/fatality, has issues of fault, property damages as well as disputed facts which requires the officers to evaluated evidence and expressed opinion as to cause of accident. Portions of the reports are admissible as statements of a party opponents to the officer or statements relating to injury at the scene of the collision for medical care and treatment.