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In its latest report, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 12,186 car crashes in 2018, with 14,937 people obtaining serious injuries. Given these alarming statistics, it is essential to understand fault and liability in an accident to facilitate fair compensation for those involved.
After an accident, it is best to remain on the scene until the police arrive, especially when you believe the other driver was responsible for the accident. The law enforcement officers will interview all parties involved and witnesses to compile the most accurate police report.
Why Is a Police Report Important?
After an accident, insurance companies often look to determine the at-fault driver to help them decide who’s insurance is responsible for covering the damage. Although a police report is not mandatory to prove fault or liability in a car accident, having one can make the process easier. The following are the other benefits of a police report:
- Provides helpful evidence– police reports are the law enforcement’s official account of what happened. They often capture important details such as the skid marks’ length and observation of the vehicle’s position on the scene. These details can be relied on when deciding on the driver at fault.
- Captures officers’ opinion– police reports also include the officers’ opinion on how they think the accident happened. It also clarifies if the driver was issued a ticket at the scene. All these details are helpful when insurance companies are determining fault.
- Reveals whether a driver violated a law– if law enforcement officers believe a driver violated the law, they may conduct further investigation, issue a citation or even arrest the driver. For example, should the police suspect a driver to be intoxicated, they may perform roadside sobriety tests, blood tests, or breath tests to obtain solid evidence the driver was DUI. An arrest can serve as powerful evidence that determines who was at fault in a car accident.
Can a Police Report Be Entirely Relied on to Determine Fault?
Although a police report is not the only tool used to determine a fault, the report gets it right about 80 percent of the time. However, there are few instances that a police report gets it wrong completely. A police report can get it wrong in a scenario where the injured person cannot speak for themselves because they were rushed to the hospital or, unfortunately, they succumbed to injuries.
In such a scenario, the police officer will only get one version of what happened. If you cannot rely completely on a police report to prove fault, contact Thompson Law immediately. We will send our own investigators and accident reconstruction experts to measure skid marks, take pictures and videos and interview crucial witnesses. These witnesses include other officers on the scene, ambulance personnel, and fire personnel.
How to Make the Most of a Police Report
Here are a few facts that you should know about a police report and how to make the most of them:
1. Request the Service Number
A little fact that most people don’t know is that police reports have unique service numbers assigned for a specific accident scene. Request this number from the responding officers. The number will be crucial when requesting a copy of police reports later. You should also get specific police jurisdiction details of the responding officers for easy follow-up.
2.Beware of the Final Assessment If at Fault
The final assessment of fault is not usually made at the scene. Once a police report captures all details about drivers, witnesses, specific vehicle code violated, weather or road conditions, and mechanical failure, the officers will decide on fault before finalizing the report. This often takes five days to complete.
3. Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
Police reports are public records. Once it is finalized, ensure you get a copy. You may pay a small processing fee for the copy. But Thomson Law will provide you with a free, no-obligation copy. Contact us today, and our experts will order your report and deliver it to you at no charge.
4. Review the Report with Your Attorney
Once you get a copy of the police report, go through it with your attorney to determine whether all facts check out. Ensuring all the information is accurate is important at this stage. Some of the details to focus on include:
- Date– ensure the date is correct. A date is important when calculating the statute of limitations. These are strict deadlines covering the duration you have to file a claim.
- Location– you should also check whether the location indicated is correct. The location refers to these specific places where the accident occurred.
- Party identification– a police report identifies the drivers involved as Party 1(P1) or Part 2P2). Ensure all these details are accurate. You should also check the “Insurance Carrier” and “Policy Number” sections.
- Vehicle information and owner information– ensure your vehicles’ ownership information has been captured correctly. Check also the other parties’ information. In a scenario where the other vehicle owner is different from the driver, such details are often noted in this section.
- Witness and passenger information– witness accounts of what happed form an integral part of a police report. Ensure their details are well captured
5. Petition for Amendments of the Police Report
If you notice any errors in the police report, you can petition the police department to amend the report. Errors in police reports can be:
- Factual errors– these are often simple, verifiable mistakes such as wrong dates or a wrong model of car. Such information can be corrected easily.
- Incomplete information– should you find overlooked evidence or missing information that doesn’t contradict the officer’s testimony, this information can be added to the report.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Determining fault in a car accident can be a complicated process. However, it is crucial to make such determinations for you to recover from your injuries and losses fully. Car crashes can result in severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), dislocations or bone fractures, neck and spine injuries, and more. Hiring Thompson Law’s accident and injury lawyers ensure you file a successful claim and get appropriate compensation. At Thompson Law, our initial consultation and case evaluation are free. Call 866-275-6370 or contact us online today for more details.