Car accidents generate a flurry of paperwork. As you try to manage car insurance information, medical bills and rental car contracts, it’s easy to lose documentation in the shuffle. One piece of paper you definitely don’t want to lose is your police report. An official overview of who was involved and how the accident occurred, a police report isn’t just necessary, it’s invaluable.
Police reports are completed by officers on duty at the time of your accident, and because they’re only human, human errors are bound to occur. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make necessary changes. If you’ve found an error in your police report and need it amended, keep reading to find out how to do so.
Created by the police officers responding to your crash, police reports are issued for virtually all accidents that result in damages. Always call the police to report your accident as soon as it is safe to do so. Police will arrive, assist with redirecting traffic around the collision and ensure that anyone injured receives the medical attention they need. The police report will be filed soon afterwards, based on information collected at the scene.
Police reports are often one of the first pieces of evidence that insurance claims adjusters and attorneys will evaluate. Though generally not admissible in court, police reports are important tools for determining liability. It also records the contact information and statements of drivers involved in the accident. Witness statements are also sometimes included in police reports.
Considering all it entails, it’s no surprise that the police report is often the crucial piece of evidence to determine liability. That’s why it’s so important that the facts included in the police report are correct. Of course, there are differences between facts you might disagree with and the factual errors that are objectively incorrect.
Factual Errors vs. Disputed Facts
Mistakes happen, but when errors are made on police reports, the victims of the car accident often shoulder the subsequent fall out. While it may seem as though the facts in a police report are set in stone, that is not always true. Of course, some facts are easier to alter than others.
Let’s say you got involved in an accident on Peachtree St. If the accident report says that the incident occurred on Peachtree Ave., you’ll want to get the report amended. Thankfully, changing factual errors is generally pretty easy. You’ll need to provide proof of the correct information when you reach out to the officer who wrote your report. Generally, as long as you can provide evidence of the actual correct details, factual errors are easy enough to amend.
Disputed facts, however, can be a little more complicated. If you or your attorney disagree with how the police officer characterized an incident, you may have to fight an uphill battle in order to get it altered. For example, if your Peachtree St. crash occurred because the other driver involved ran a red light, you’d likely feel aggravated when you see the police report claimed that the light was green at the time of the wreck.
Such facts are virtually impossible to disprove. Unless you have a dash cam setup with video evidence that the other driver did indeed run a red light, it will be difficult to get the report amended. Still, you have options: write up your version of what happened and ask to attach your account to the official police report. In most cases, it will be up to the police officer who wrote the report whether or not to grant your request.
Amending the Report
Every police department handles accident reports slightly differently, so you should always reach out via their non-emergency number to ask about the best way to handle changes. Be ready to show evidence of your claims in order to successfully have the report amended. Remember to be polite and to act quickly: police may have written up dozens of reports in the last week or two, so be respectful of their time.
Legal Help for Accident Victims
If you have spotted errors on your accident report and need help making necessary changes, consider reaching out to a local car accident attorney. They can assist you with finding evidence to disprove the error and get the police to cooperate with your request. Lawsuit Info Center can connect you with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney in your area today.
Our free service helps those who have been hurt in car accidents all over the country. We can give you insight into how much your claim could be worth, which lawyers in your area could help and what steps you should take next to protect your best interests. Reach out today to seek the justice you deserve in the wake of an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why would I need to amend a police report after a car accident?
If you have been in a car accident, you know the first step is to exchange insurance information with the other party involved and to call the police so they can file an accident report. Information filed within the police report can heavily depend on weather you are found at fault for the accident or not. But as we know, people make mistakes and errors are sometimes included within the report. In the situation where errors are made in a police report, it is not necessarily set in stone. Changes can be made to the report otherwise known as “amending” the police report. Amending a police report is simple, yet changes will only be made if provided with strong concrete evidence to support your claim. There are many reasons you might need to amend a police report including:
- Incorrect spelling
- Wrong name, birth date, license plate number, make/model of car
- Insurance forms
- Registration records
- Incorrect testimony (you reported that you were going 20mph and the officer recorded that you were going 30mph)
- Error in the witness statement
Can I be charged to amend my police report?
If you notice something on the police report that you believe is incorrect and are looking to get the police report amended, it will be free of charge. This requires no money involved. Some types of reports cost money to obtain however, will never cost to amend. For example, in the city of San Jose, California the cost to obtain an accident report is $16 per copy.
How much time do you have to file a police report after a car accident?
After an accident occurs, you may be frazzled with having to deal with so many variables that go into the aftermath of a collision. It is always a good idea to file a police report in order for the insurance adjusters to determine who is at fault among other things. But how much time do you have to calm down and file that police report before it’s too late? Each state has different laws regarding this situation. For example, in Alabama you must file within 30 days but in California you only have 10 days. Many states including Colorado, Georgia and Louisiana all require you to report the accident immediately over the phone. It’s always a good idea to immediately report the accident as a safety net. You never know what other mishaps may occur in your life causing you to become distracted and miss the deadline or forget to file a report altogether.
Can a police officer change an accident report?
It is possible to change an accident report if there are mistakes present within the report. You can provide the officer who made the initial report with a letter requesting an amendment with factual evidence of what mistakes were made and how they should be fixed. The officer can then make the changes needed by simply attaching an addendum to the report and clarify the error. In the event that there are factual errors such as the wrong license plate or color of the car, the officer can easily fix this mistake. On the other hand, if you are looking to make adjustments to a detail that is up for debate it will be difficult to get consent from the officer to change the report.