When your Police Report is Wrong

After you’re in a severe car crash, the police report is one of the first things you need to file a claim against a negligent driver. It has vital information on it such as:
  • crash details,
  • date,
  • location,
  • damage,
  • citations and arrests,
  • witness statements,
  • and contact information.

But what should you do if some of the information is wrong?

A police officer at the scene of a crash may have conflicting stories to sort through during a stressful situation. It may be at night, the weather could be bad, and someone may be severely hurt. No matter the error, don’t ignore them and act as soon as you can.

Why Does an Incorrect Police Report Matter?

The police report sets the tone for your insurance claim or lawsuit, so, ideally, it has accurate facts. The officer is a neutral party who views the situation through the eyes of law enforcement professionalism. The report carries weight and is the starting point of our and the insurance company’s investigations.
What may be especially damaging is a mistaken citation or arrest because the officer got the situation wrong. You will need to fight that ticket and defend yourself in the criminal process to remove these issues from your case. If you do nothing about them, you will be blamed for the accident, and you may get little or nothing from an insurance carrier.
Even without a significant error, an incorrect police report that makes you look at fault gets your case off to a bad start. It may not be the end of your claim. It can be corrected, and our investigation may establish how and why the report’s wrong.
What Mistakes Might be Made?
Mistakes can be due to human error, conflicting information given by the parties, or the officer making judgment calls based on incorrect information.
A human error can be an incorrect date, the wrong location or contact information, or the report lacking witness statements. These issues should be the easiest to clear up, especially if you have photos or videos of the scene. You can give your contact information, a photo of the other driver’s license if you have one, and the identities of any witnesses if there are any.
The disputed information will probably be harder to change. The other driver may claim you did or didn’t do something that caused the crash. The officer may have found their version credible. If witnesses or facts make your side of the story more convincing, make them known to the officer.
Judgment calls may result from a mistaken understanding of what happened. You may be the at-fault driver because the officer believed the other driver’s story, not yours. By presenting additional facts or pointing out how the facts conflict with the other driver’s version of events, the officer may change the report.

No matter the error or its cause, it should be addressed.

How to change an accident report:
  1. Collect evidence that the original report is incorrect. Evidence can include eyewitness statements, 911 call recordings, or photographs.
  2. Contact the officer who responded at the scene of your accident. The officer’s name and phone number will be on the original accident report.
  3. Make an appointment to show the officer your evidence and ask him to change the report. The officer may not be able to make all the changes that you request. The officer can only list facts that he can verify or could verify when he arrived at the scene of the accident. For example, the officer cannot write down that the other driver was speeding unless he witnessed it, but he can list evidence of speeding such as skid marks.
When talking to the officer
  • Be polite and professional. An officer may be reluctant to help if you give them an attitude or criticize their work.
  • Provide any additional information such as your car’s registration or insurance details
  • Be sympathetic and tell them you understand their job isn’t easy. Thank them for their help. The officer may be in a “no-win” situation where both drivers want the report changed.
  • Stay calm, be professional, and ask the officer directly.
  • Don’t take this issue to their supervisor unless it’s necessary.
  • Put yourself in the officer’s shoes. What would you want to see or hear to change the report?

An Accurate Police Report Helps Tell Your Story

A personal injury attorney must effectively tell your story to the insurance company and, when necessary, a judge or jury. An accurate police report is part of that story, and it can carry a lot of weight when an insurance carrier puts a value on your case.
Contact Essa, Janho & Associates to find out how much your personal injury claim is worth. We will investigate your accident and ensure you secure the fair compensation you deserve.