§49.11 Police Reports

The Case: Youngblood v. Solomon , No. 03A01-9601-CV-00037, 1996 WL 310015 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 11, 1996).

The Basic Facts: This is in action for personal injuries arising out of an automobile accident. After a verdict for the plaintiff, the defendant appealed challenging the trial court's introduction of a police officer's report concerning the accident.

The Bottom Line:

  • "The introduction of the police report is proscribed by T.C.A. § 55-10-114(b) which provides in pertinent part as follows:
    (b) No reports or information in this section shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal, arising out of an accident, except that the department shall furnish upon demand of any party to such trial, or upon demand of any court, a certificate showing that a specified accident report has or has not been made to the department in compliance with the law."
    1996 WL 310015 at *1.
  • "There are no exceptions in the statute for introduction of a report as evidence in any manner and we are not inclined to create one. It has been held that an officer's report may be used for the purpose of refreshing the officer's memory. See Lee v. Shipp (Tenn. App. Opinion filed September 11, 1985). See also Tennessee Rules of Evidence, Rule 803(5), relating to refreshment of a witness' recollection. It would appear that Rule 803(5) would make the police report admissible absent the statutory prohibition. We are of the opinion, however, that the statutory prohibition against admission must prevail. See Rule 101, Tennessee Rules of Evidence and McBee v. Williams, 405 S.W.2d 6678 (Tenn. App. 1966). McBee expressly holds that the question of admissibility of such [accident] reports is controlled by T.C.A. § 59-1014 [now T.C.A. § 55-10-114]. We agree with McBee and hold that police reports prepared and filed pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-10-114 are inadmissible as evidence and the admission of the of the [sic] report in this case was error." Id. (footnote omitted).

Other Sources of Note: Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-114; Tenn. R. Evid. 803(8).

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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