Getting An Accident Report Changed
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If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s important to call police to the scene. The police can help in several ways. They can help keep everyone safe until the vehicles are cleared from the road. They can get help for people who are injured. And they will also conduct an initial investigation of the crash.
The results of this investigation will be included in an official accident report. In Texas, this is known as the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3). It includes:
- Details about the accident
- The time and location of the accident
- Contact information for drivers and witnesses
- A description of vehicle damage
- Information about injuries
- The names of any witnesses
- A narrative and diagram explaining the crash
- Information about any citations issued
While police often try to be thorough when completing accident reports, researchers have called for improvements in procedure in order to produce reports that are more accurate. Accident scenes can be chaotic, but even in the best situation, mistakes can be made.
Accident reports are regularly reviewed by insurance companies to determine fault and the amount of compensation for injury victims. An error in the report can have serious consequences for your injury claim and potentially reduce the amount of financial compensation you are able to recover.
That’s why it’s important to get a copy of your report as soon as possible and review it carefully to determine if all of the information included is correct. You can order a copy online from the Texas Department of Transportation or contact the local police department that responded to your accident.
What types of errors can be found in accident reports?
Any part of the report can contain errors. However, mistakes generally can be grouped into four different categories, including:
There may be information in the report that is obviously incorrect. For example, the officer may have written down your phone number incorrectly or listed the wrong insurance company. The make, model, or color of one of the vehicles involved may be incorrect. Or the officer wrote down the wrong street name when noting the location of the accident.
Police officers are human, and they can make mistakes. While reviewing their notes to complete the accident report, they may have accidentally entered information incorrectly. For example, you told the officer you were traveling at a speed of 30 mph just before the crash, but the officer wrote down 50 mph. if the posted speed limit at the accident location is 30 mph, the insurance company will take that as an admission that you were speeding.
In this case, the officer left something out of the report that should have been included. One example is information about possible injuries. You may have told the officer at the scene that you were experiencing pain in your neck or shoulder, but that information was left out of the report for some reason. An insurance company will read the accident report and conclude that you reported no injuries.
This type of information is more subjective and usually involves descriptions of how the accident happened. For example, you saw another driver speed through a stop sign. But the other driver claims to have come to a complete stop.
How can I get my accident report changed?
You have reviewed your accident report and discovered information that is either incorrect or missing. What are your options? It may be possible to get the report changed or amended, but you need to act quickly, and you shouldn’t do it on your own. An attorney can help you set the record straight.
Contact the police department.
Ask to speak with the officer who completed the report, if possible. Describe the errors you found in the report and ask if they can be corrected.
It’s perfectly normal to be upset if your accident report is inaccurate. But anger or rudeness is not going to get you anywhere.
This gives you a much better chance of getting the report changed. Examples of documentation can include photos, video, a copy of your insurance policy, medical records, or a witness statement.
An officer may agree to change factual errors in the report if you provide documentation for the correct information – or will agree to amend the report with a clarification. You may also be able to get transcription errors changed if the officer is willing to review notes taken at the scene and sees that information was entered incorrectly.
But in cases involving missing information or disputed information, it may not be possible to get the report changed or amended. An officer may not remember being told that you were experiencing pain, for example, and failed to write that information down.
An officer is also unlikely to change disputed information. The statement of a witness or the other driver can’t be changed – that’s what they told the officer after the accident. However, the officer may allow you to add your own statement as an addendum to the report to clarify what you saw and experienced during the accident.
An experienced car accident attorney can help
Any statement you provide needs to be carefully worded. Insurance companies will read it and will try to use anything you say against you in an attempt to limit your compensation.
That’s why it is in your best interests to get legal advice following a car accident. An experienced attorney can help you get a copy of the accident report and review it with you. If an officer allows you to include a statement, an attorney can help you with the wording to ensure that your rights are protected.
An attorney can also use other information in the report as part of an investigation into your accident. A law firm will have the resources to gather evidence (such as any video of the accident taken by traffic cameras), identify and interview witnesses, and if needed, consult accident reconstruction experts.
While the statute of limitations for taking legal action in Texas is two years from the date of a car accident, time is not on your side. It’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Contact Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.
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