My car recently was in a hit and run while I was inside the house. A witness saw the accident and attempted to follow the suspect. Upon arriving the police officer did not want to speak to the witness, even after asking him, and now the witness is unreachable for the insurance. Did the officer have a responsibility to speak to the witness and include it in the police report?
Just to clarify: when the officer arrived at the scene the witness was there and was fully willing to cooperate. The officer then had to leave to go inspect the suspect's vehicle stating "I need to go write some tickets". Before leaving, I asked the officer if he needs and can speak to the witness so that we do not waste his time and since he had not spoken to him at all. The officer said that he does not need to speak to him at all and promptly left. Now the insurance is trying to contact the witness using the phone number he had given me, but is unable to and the police report does not mention what the witness had said/seen.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Don't know the law in MD, but in Ca, the police officer doesn't you a general duty to do a thorough investigation. For ex. here you have to show the officer promised he would get the witness' info so you don't have to, and then he fails to do it. The witness may not be important if there is other evidence, or if the other driver made admissions. Also, a witness statement in a police report is hearsay evidence and not admissible. You would still need to get a hold of the witness should the deft deny liability.
Estate Planning Attorney
There is no requirement that the officer need to interview the witness. However, a prudent officer would at least record the witness's contact information. If you had done this already, then the officer had no reason to do so.
Even if the officer did speak to the witness and record his or her statements in the police report, it probably would not be very helpful in your situation. Without knowing additional facts, it would be impossible to know. But it sounds like the officer found the offending vehicle anyway so the witness's testimony wouldn't really add anything to the case. Also, neither the report nor the officer's recollection of the witness's statements would be admissible at trial as they are both hearsay.
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3 lawyers agree
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
The officer is not required to speak to all witnesses. However, you can make an uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance company for the property damage. Usually, there is a $250 deductible. If you have the name of the witness, the insurance company will eventually reach him.
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Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
I agree with the other answers here. Unfortunately there is not likely a formal requirement that the officer has to speak to the witness. If you have the witness contact information, try getting him yourself and ask him to handwrite a statement. If the insurer has the information, they will continue to pursue. Your insurance policy MAY have Uninsured Motorist coverage on it, which might cover the claim for you; however, in my state, uninsured motorist coverage does not cover for property damage. I would urge you to try to locate this witness and see if you can get that statement. Good luck.