Is It Possible to Alter a Police Report Following an Accident?
Is It Possible to Alter a Police Report Following an Accident?
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Can a Police Report Be Changed After an Accident?
A favorable police report can be critical for receiving the insurance settlement you deserve if another party causes your accident. However, police reports are not always accurate. If you were recently involved in a crash and discovered that the accident report is unfair or contains mistakes, you might wonder, “Can a police report be changed after an accident?”
Changing a police report after it has been filed can be tricky. If there are errors or omissions in the report, you could potentially ask law enforcement to correct or supplement the information. However, this is not always successful. Since a police report can be critical for your insurance claim or lawsuit, consider getting legal help if the report is inaccurate.
Morgan & Morgan is on your side. Our car accident attorneys could help to correct an accident report, protect your rights, and fight for what you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn about your next best steps.
Information Contained in the Police Accident Report
When you experience a collision and dial 911, law enforcement will arrive at the scene. An officer typically completes a traffic accident report after speaking to the involved parties and inspecting the scene and vehicles. Information usually contained in a report includes:
- Weather conditions and visibility on the day
- The time and date of the accident
- Details of the involved drivers (addresses, insurance information, etc.)
- An opinion on who is responsible for the accident
- A schematic drawing and photos of the accident
- Details of vehicle damage
- A list of injuries suffered by those involved in the crash
- Statements from drivers, car occupants, and eyewitnesses
- Traffic citations
Common Errors in Police Accident Reports
Police reports matter greatly, as they are considered legal documents that could be used as evidence in civil and criminal cases. Therefore, mistakes can affect insurance claims and legal cases. However, police accident reports are not perfect and can contain inaccuracies, omissions, and other mistakes. Common errors include:
Errors of omission occur when a police officer fails to mention information that should be contained in the police report. The scene of an accident can be chaotic and confusing. An officer may miss important facts, such as a traffic violation committed by the responsible driver. An officer may also forget to include that you told them you were hurt or are experiencing pain. However, what seems like a minor omission or error at the time could complicate your compensation claim later.
Factual errors involve objective information and can include the following mistakes and others:
- Vehicle details such as wrong model, wrong color, or license plate errors
- Incorrect driver’s license number
- Wrong accident location or date
- Incorrect insurance information
- Incorrect birth dates
- An incomplete list of injuries
Factual errors are typically easy to correct. If you spot a mistake in the police report, you can call the responsible law enforcement department and follow the procedure for correcting inaccuracies in the police report. You may also be able to speak with the responsible police officer directly. They can then amend or supplement the report with the correct details.
Disputed facts can be difficult or even impossible to correct as these are typically subjective and based on the opinion of the attending officer. Disputed errors usually involve the critical assessment of who or what caused the accident and which driver was at fault. Actions you can take when you discover such an error can include:
- Contact the responsible officer immediately and before the report is finalized.
- Provide evidence, such as photographs or witness statements, showing why the description in the report is wrong.
- Ask whether you can provide a supplemental statement to the report if the officer is unwilling to change the main document.
Your Next Best Steps for Correcting a Police Report
If you move quickly after the accident, you may be able to correct any errors in the police report before it is finalized. The longer you wait, the smaller your chances of success. However, to have the best chance of correcting the police report, consider the following helpful tips:
Review the Report at the Accident Scene
If you can, review the report while still at the accident scene. This lets you alert the responsible police officer immediately if you notice any glaring errors or omissions.
Be Polite and Courteous
A car accident scene can be chaotic, stressful, and complicated. Police officers attending the crash may deal with multiple issues and are probably rushing the report. Therefore, always assume that mistakes were made in good faith and not to disadvantage you. When explaining the error or omission, politely mention your version of events. Law enforcement officers are more likely to listen to you if you are friendly and respectful.
Provide Evidence for the Mistake or Omission
If you want to correct the accident report, you are more likely to be successful if you provide evidence. For example, if your injuries are missing from the report, provide medical records to prove you suffered injuries in the crash. If you are disputing a vehicle description or road and weather conditions, provide proof for your statement, such as:
- Photographs or videos of the accident scene
- Car title or registration
- Information from the National Weather Service
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
A correct and complete car accident report can be essential for receiving the compensation you deserve. If you disagree with a witness statement, the officer’s version of events, or you dispute a traffic citation, changing the main body of the report is practically impossible. However, you may be able to present your version of events in a supplement.
If you wonder whether a police report can be changed after an accident, speak to an experienced car accident attorney who can handle law enforcement on your behalf. Your lawyer can advocate for you and may be able to get the report amended or supplemented.
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How to Obtain a Police Accident Report?
After an accident, the attending police officer typically provides all parties with an incident report document that looks similar to a traffic ticket. This document contains an identification number relating to your accident and report. You will need this number when requesting your copy. However, if you lost the identification number, the relevant law enforcement department should be able to find your report with your name, contact details, date, and location of the crash. You can request an accident report in person, online, or by mail.
However, an accident report will not be available immediately, and a few weeks will likely pass before you can request your report. If someone was killed in the crash, you might have to wait longer before the report becomes available.
Is the Police Report Crucial Evidence for a Claim or Lawsuit?
The police report can be a critical piece of evidence in both insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. An attorney can use the information contained in the document to establish who is responsible and liable for your damages. Likewise, since evidence can be challenging to come by after a crash, insurance companies may rely on the police accident report. However, relying solely on the report for receiving an insurance settlement or lawsuit can be a mistake.
Insurers Will Conduct Their Own Investigations
Although insurance companies will consider the police report, they will most likely conduct their own investigations into accidents to determine who is liable. Their findings may or may not correspond with the police report.
Courts May Reject Police Reports as Evidence
The police report may be admitted as evidence if your case goes to trial. However, it could get rejected as “hearsay evidence,” meaning that the report carries the same weight as other statements made out of court.
The Report May Be Inconclusive or Contain Errors
A police report may not always reliably assert who is at fault for a car crash. The document may contain omissions, mistakes, and inaccuracies that could sink your legal case or prevent you from obtaining a fair insurance settlement.
While a police report can be helpful for your claim or lawsuit, it will not guarantee an insurance payout or legal win. Therefore, if you have substantial injuries and losses due to a car accident, consider hiring an experienced and tenacious lawyer who can present your case powerfully, prove your claim, and fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Is My Insurance Payout Dependent on a Favorable Police Report?
The police accident report can carry considerable weight when an insurance carrier decides whether to pay or refuse a claim. However, sometimes, the insurer comes to different conclusions when investigating the accident. Therefore, even if a police officer determines that the other driver was at fault for your crash, the insurance company may reduce or deny your claim. When this happens, you should contact an attorney to discuss your next best steps.
How Can a Morgan & Morgan Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
It is best not to rely on a police accident report when you suffer from significant injuries and financial losses after a severe car accident. A car accident lawyer from Morgan & Morgan could help you prove your claim and recover a fair settlement.
We Can Fight for You While You Get Better
Car accidents can be painful, traumatic, and exhausting. The last thing injured victims need is to muddle through a complex insurance claim or lawsuit while trying to recover. A Morgan & Morgan car accident lawyer can handle your case from start to finish and take some of the burdens off your shoulders.
Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Win
Insurers want to preserve their profits. They would prefer you to handle a claim on your own so they can minimize or deny your claim. Insurance companies know that you are more likely to recover a fair settlement with an attorney. Morgan & Morgan wants you to win. We fight tooth and nail to recover fair compensation for our clients.
You Need to Know the Worth of Your Claim
Knowing how much your injuries are worth can be tricky. Trusting an insurer to place a fair value on your injuries and expenses is a mistake, as they will most likely undervalue your claim. Morgan & Morgan never settles for less. We can determine your losses and put an accurate value on your injuries. We ensure that all your losses are considered, as you may have accident-related expenses for years to come.
We Can Help Even if You Are Partially at Fault
Getting what you deserve can be particularly challenging if you share responsibility for the accident. However, you could still be entitled to an insurance settlement. Our car accident lawyers can ensure that you are treated fairly and that the other side is not shifting all the blame for the accident on you. We can fight hard for the payout you deserve, even in demanding and complex claims.
Morgan & Morgan Can Help You Get Justice and Compensation
Our seasoned attorneys could help you if you believe there are significant errors in your crash report and you wonder, “Can a police report be changed after an accident?” However, we don’t stop there. We want you to receive the settlement you deserve if you got hurt through no fault of your own.
All law firms are not the same. Insurers know that, unlike some other law firms, we will take them to court if they deny our clients the settlements they deserve. For over 30 years, we have represented families in their times of need. Our fee is free unless and until we win and you receive compensation.
Don’t wait to seek justice, as the time to file a lawsuit may be limited. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation.