Following a car accident, a responding police officer usually files a report detailing the incident. This document, also known as a car accident report, contains important information about the crash, including:
- Names of the drivers involved in the accident;
- Statements from the drivers or potential witnesses;
- Damage to any vehicles or property;
- Injuries sustained by drivers, passengers, or pedestrians;
- Pictures or diagrams of the scene; and
- Opinions of the responding officer filing the report.
While most of the details may be accurate, officers often make mistakes when creating the report.
Since your police report plays an essential role in your insurance claim, it is important to fix these errors, preferably with the help of an experienced car accident attorney if possible. Here are some of the mistakes you may find on your report and how to correct them.
Types of Police Report Mistakes You May Encounter
It isn’t uncommon for those involved in a crash to find mistakes on their car accident report. While some errors may seem minor at first, the insurance company may use them against you in your claim. Most police report mistakes can be divided into two categories: factual errors and subjective errors.
A factual error is any piece of information that is objectively incorrect, such as the day that the accident happened or the model of a vehicle. These are the most common factual mistakes made in a police report’s accident summary:
- Inaccurate names, birthdates, or license plate numbers;
- Wrong make and model of vehicles involved;
- Incorrect testimony from you or any witnesses;
- Incorrect accident location; and
- Missing information.
Generally, factual errors are easy to fix if you have proper documentation that shows the correct information.
Subjective Errors or Disputed Information
These types of errors are difficult to remedy since they involve the opinions or conclusions of the officer or potential witnesses.
For example, the officer may believe one witness statement saying that you ran a red light, while another witness says that the light was still green. In this case, it is virtually impossible to disprove the conflicting statement unless you have evidence that the light was green.
How to Prevent Errors in Your Report
After a car accident, there may be too much going on for you to focus on the reporting officer. However, if it is safe to do so, approach the officer and give them as many details as possible about the accident.
In addition, if you believe there is any evidence that the officer missed, make sure to point it out. This will help make the report more accurate and prevent both factual and subjective errors.
If My Police Report Is Wrong, What Do I Do?
If your car accident police report is wrong or has any of the errors discussed above, there may be a few ways to correct them. Although it may be difficult to change the original accident report, some police departments allow you to request a supplemental police report.
The reporting officer usually includes this report with the original if someone brings new information forward, such as a new witness statement.
In addition, if multiple officers investigate the case, each may provide their own supplemental report. However, since filing a supplemental report isn’t always an option, here are some tips to help amend a police report.
1. Provide Documentation
For any error, the reporting officer is more likely to make any corrections if you have documentation proving the mistake. For example, if the police report lists your birthdate incorrectly, provide the officer with a copy of your ID. This small step goes a long way in helping your accident claim.
2. Politely Ask for Changes As Soon As Possible
It’s best to get a copy of your accident report as soon as you can to check for any errors. If you notice any issues, contact the officer who filed the report immediately.
They may be able to help make changes before they finalize the report. Be sure to be polite with the officer since they will be more likely to make those changes if you are respectful.
3. Make a New Statement
In cases where the officer refuses to amend disputed information, you can write up a new statement about the error and ask to have it attached to the report.
Your account of the situation should include documentation, pictures, etc. that prove the error. If you have trouble writing a new statement about the disputed information, seek out one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
4. Include Medical Documentation in the Report
If you suffer a severe injury in the accident and give a statement at the hospital, chances are you may have trouble providing your side of the story.
This is often due to the effects of your medication or the amount of pain you are experiencing.
Make sure to provide the reporting officer with medical documentation showing that your original statement was made in an altered state. In some cases, the officer may allow you to make a new statement for the report.
5. Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Even if an error in your accident report seems easy to fix, you should consider hiring a personal injury attorney to help. They will make sure that your accident report is as accurate as possible and attach accompanying statements indicating the errors if necessary.
While it may still be impossible to change the car accident report, the attorney’s statement helps dispute any incorrect information.
Injured in an Accident? A Richmond Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
At River Run Law, we know that the aftermath of a traumatic accident can be confusing and intimidating. The last thing a victim needs during their recovery is incorrect information on their accident report that could jeopardize their claim.
Our car accident attorneys have extensive experience representing clients throughout Richmond, Virginia in their personal injury claims.
Using an aggressive approach, we work tirelessly on your behalf so you can focus on recovery. If you are injured in an accident in Virginia, contact us now for a free consultation.