In the majority of Florida car or motorcycle accidents, a law enforcement officer is called to the scene. As a result, a Florida Traffic Report is prepared or a criminal investigation is opened, based on the facts of the case. But this does not mean that a traffic citation is always issued. In instances where a citation is not issued, it is important to understand and guard against the weight of an officer’s testimony at a trial.
This issue was recently addressed by the 5th District Court of Appeal in Diaz v. FedEx Freight East, Inc., So.3d, 37 FLW D2849 (Fla. 5th DCA 12-14-2012). In the Diaz case, the investigating officer testified to his opinion as to fault in the motor vehicle accident. Through his testimony, the officer implied to the jury that the defendant had not been cited in the accident thereby trying to infer that the defendant was not at fault. Because a law enforcement officer's testimony is given so much weight in front of jury, the appellate court found that it was error for the trial court not to grant a mistrial based on the law enforcement officers attempt to assign fault.
Fault, in a motor vehicle accident case is a question for the jury and case law has now established that it is prejudicial for an officer to provide an opinion as to fault.
In the event you have suffered a personal injury in a motor vehicle accident we welcome you to call Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation.