From the time you were a small child, you were taught to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. One thing that you were probably not taught was that calling 911 has a larger benefit than simply alerting authorities that an accident occurred or a crime was committed. When a criminal or personal injury case goes to court, recordings and transcripts of 911 calls can provide a wealth of information to attorneys.
For example, after an accident, a person may call 9-1-1 to alert the authorities and, while describing what happened, make candid statements about his or her involvement in the accident, including admitting fault. These statements, especially if they are later denied, can be used to impeach or challenge a defendant to show that the person has changed his or her story.
Attorneys can also use information from 911 calls to locate witnesses. A person may be traveling in his or her vehicle – possibly on an Interstate – when he or she witnesses an accident in another lane of traffic. If the witness does not stop and wait for the police to arrive on the scene in order to give a statement, but calls 9-1-1 to report the incident and leaves a name and number, an attorney can locate the witness to interview him or her about what they witnessed.
While 911 calls are public record, many sheriff’s departments only keep 911 call records for a short time, usually destroying them after 120 days. If this important information is destroyed, it may significantly impair a victim’s right to recover for repairs, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney before any 911 information is lost forever.