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Inaccurate Auto Accident Police Report

You review your auto accident police report for the crash you were in two weeks ago. You discover inaccuracies in the report. You and the family member riding with you were both seriously injured, and you plan to take legal action. You know the police report is a vital piece of information when negotiating

inaccurate auto accident police report - Altizer Law PC

with insurance companies or in court. What can you do?

In our last blog post, “Auto accident police report: Is it Important?” we discussed the importance of a police report, the information it contains, how it is created, and how it is often used. We pointed out that, despite its inadmissibility in court, the report is critical when it is time to reach a settlement with the insurance company or for the reporting officer to testify in a trial.

If the report will be used in these ways, it is vital that the information it contains be accurate. Thus, if you discover an inaccuracy or a mistake, you need to address it immediately.

Types of Errors

Inaccuracies of several types can be found occasionally in a police report. Some of these inaccuracies are relatively easy to correct, some require a bit more effort.

Errors of Facts

These errors often occur regarding objective facts. These might include

  1. Driver’s license or insurance for one of the drivers involved.
  2. Make and model of one of the vehicles involved in the crash.
  3. Spelling of driver, passenger, or witness names.
  4. Error in the name of the insurance company or policy number.
  5. Description of the site of the crash.

These errors are easy to correct because you will have objective documentation of the correct information. This information and copies of the documentation should be provided to the police department that sent an officer to the scene of the accident. Upon receipt of the documentation, the police officer will decide whether to correct the original report or (more often) attach an addendum to the original report that explains and corrects the erroneous information.

Transcription Errors

These errors occur when the police officer is gathering information at the scene of the accident and misunderstands information provided or makes a simple error when writing down the information. Transcription errors also occur when someone involved in the crash gives information to the police officer that they believe is important, but for some reason it is absent from the report. Any errors in information or omissions can have a major effect on the outcome of a trial, mediation, or insurance settlement.

Disputed Facts, Interpretations or Conclusions

These errors or discrepancies typically concern statements made in the police report. For example, you may not agree with the police officer’s conclusion that you were speeding at the time of the crash or that you ran a red light. These conclusions and interpretations are not so easy to have corrected. Some inaccuracies of this kind likely will not be changed by the reporting police officer.

How to Address Errors or Inaccuracies in an Auto Accident Police Report

You may find that you will need the assistance of an attorney when you try to have information and conclusions changed in a police report. To begin, you need to file a dispute of the inaccurate information. Here are the basic steps to follow.

  1. Contact the police officer who filed the accident report. The police department or precinct should have a listing of contact information for their officers. If the officer agrees with your belief that an error has been made, she or he may agree readily to amend the report.
  2. If you are unable to reach the officer, or she refuses to change the report, go to the local Division of Motor Vehicles and file a dispute form. Plan to attach copies of all eyewitness statements to your dispute.
  3. Contact your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. Explain the inaccuracies you have noted and outline the evidence you have to support your dispute (eyewitness accounts, doctor’s reports, physical evidence). The insurance companies may provide forms for your dispute. Attach copies of all documentation to these forms, as well.
  4. If the inaccuracy you are trying to change is significant or if the accident was severe, you may be well advised to engage an attorney to handle the dispute for you. Your attorney can help you to correct the report and ensure that the corrected report is delivered to the appropriate people or agencies.

Mistakes can be made by anyone. If there is an error in your auto accident police report, remain calm and respectful, follow these steps, and persist. If you are not making progress on your own, call an auto accident attorney to help you with the dispute of information.

If the accident occurred through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to take legal action to recover appropriate financial compensation for your hurts and harms. Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA has been helping people injured in auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents for more than 30 years. We are known for our unique combination of compassion and determination to obtain for each client the maximum compensation. Bettina Altizer and her team understand that when you are hurt, it’s about the money.