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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

When making a motion for summary judgment in a car accident case, why does the police report need to be certified as a business record?

 

A:

First, a motion is nothing more than a formal written request to the court to take action.

Second, a motion for summary judgment is a request that the court grant you judgment so that you “win” your case on written papers.

A request for summary judgment is a way to short-circuit the litigation process and ask the court to award you a decision in your favor.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHORT-CIRCUITS THE LITIGATION PROCESS

There are many procedural rules that accompany such A request. Since this procedure short-circuits the litigation process, the attorney who is asking the court to award them judgment in their favor is required to put forth all the proof necessary so the court can look at it and make a determination as to whether the claims being made and the legal issues being raised are sufficient to justify a decision in your favor.

HIT IN THE REAR EXAMPLE

In a car accident case, let's say it involves someone who hit you in the rear while you were stopped at a traffic light. The police report clearly indicates that the driver was not paying attention and plowed into the back of your car causing you significant injury.

Can you simply attach a copy of the police report to your request for summary judgment and submit it to the court? The short answer is you could, but doing so would be extremely dangerous and likely not help your request. The reason is that the judge who is evaluating the police report does not know whether this is an accurate copy of what the police officer recorded.

Whenever you submit documents with a formal request to the court for summary judgment, you must do so in the same manner as if you are submitting evidence at the time of trial. If a piece of evidence or document requires a certification or testimony from someone to certify that it is accurate and true, then the attorney must go through the same exact process to validate and certif that evidence.

The only way the judge will consider the evidence you presented is if it is done in a legally sufficient way.

HOW TO CERRTIFY A POLICE REPORT

If we were to offer a police report into evidence at trial, we would need to have it certified either by the police officer or by someone in the police department. It would need to be certified that this document was made in the ordinary course of business and is also kept in the ordinary course of business. It would be helpful to have the police officer testify about the accuracy of the information contained in the report and that the report was made at the time he arrived on scene.

If we are to use this report to sport our request for summary judgment, then we must get someone from the police department to sign an affidavit, which is a sworn statement claiming that this document is prepared in the ordinary course of business and that the photocopy is a true and accurate representation of the original report that was filed with the police department.

Only then would the court consider this particular evidence when evaluating your request for summary judgment.