This is a topic that comes up often. In fact, I hear it not just from clients, but also from many insurance adjusters. They tell me that the police report is admissible evidence that my client did something wrong.
The simple fact is that the police report itself is not evidence. A jury will never see the police report. The jury can hear about the investigation. The jury can hear what the police officer saw or heard. But the jury will never see the report or hear the officer’s conclusions.
Why? First, the police report is hearsay. It is an out of court statement. It is not admissible for that reason. But, beyond that, the California Evidence Code specifically excludes the police report. Therefore, the report never makes it to the jury and the jury never hears what the officer determined.
The question of fault is a question for the jury to decide. So, while important, the police report is not the final determination of who caused an accident.