By reading this article, you will learn:
- What is included in an accident report
- What to do if your accident report is incorrect
- How a car accident attorney can help prove the extent of the other driver’s fault
An accident report is an official document written by a responding officer at the site of a crash. It includes specific details about the accident that may be used in future settlement talks or in a future lawsuit.
What is included in an accident report?
- The date and time of the crash
- Notes on the accident taken by the officer
- A drawn diagram of the crash, including where each vehicle was and its path
- Any witness interview statements
- Driver and passenger statements
- Notes on damage to cars and property
- Notes on injuries
- Debris patterns on the road
- Skid marks on the road to show braking
- Opinion of which driver is at fault
In Indiana, there were 217,396 traffic crashes in 2019.
In these crashes, 800 people died, 46,306 people were injured, and 303,531 people were uninjured.
In each one of these accidents, a state trooper or police officer responded and wrote an accident report. As you can imagine, given the sheer amount of information and the fraught circumstances of most road accidents, there were bound to be some mistakes. Officers of the law are fallible, just like everyone else.
How do I access the accident report from my crash?
There are a few options, such as contacting the state police directly or asking your lawyer or insurance company. However, the most frequently used option is to use the Indiana State Police endorsed website to purchase a copy.
The website is called BuyCrash.com, and it allows you to use a credit card to order the report online or to download a mail-in form which you can submit with a money order or certified check for $12 (as of July 2021).
Perhaps you have never seen an accident report before; you may need to decipher some of the abbreviations or codes. This Indiana code sheet will assist you in interpreting the report.
Suppose that you have received the report and understood all of the notes and codes on it, but you find a mistake?
- Act immediately. There is no time to waste.
- If the mistake is easily rectified (license plate number off by a digit, wrong insurance information, incorrect make of vehicle, incorrect location of the damage on your car, incorrect weather conditions, etc.…), you can contact the police officer and ask for the report to be corrected.
- If you dispute the opinion of the officer who assigned fault, it will not be easy (or even possible) to have it changed.
- Hopefully, you wrote an extremely detailed account of the accident as soon as you got home and while everything was still fresh in your mind. Compare this to the accident report.
- If they differ, and you aren’t able to convince the reporting officer to amend the report, write up your version (without emotion or opinions), include any supporting evidence that you have, and sign it, date it, and ask that it be attached to the original report.
- This is the time to consult an experienced Indiana car accident attorney (if you haven’t already) who will be able to examine all of the available evidence to help you earn a fair settlement or make a claim against the at-fault driver.
Remember that the accident report is just one piece of the puzzle. Other pieces of evidence your lawyer may use to fight your case:
- Witness statements
- Medical records and documents
- Surveillance footage (possibly from area businesses)
- Electronic Data Recorder (EDR) information from either or both of the vehicles
- Photos or videos taken at the scene
- In complex cases in which fault may be disputed, the Poynter & Bucheri team of car accident attorneys in Indianapolis may retain experts, including accident reconstructionists or engineers, to help establish the cause of the collision and identify the responsible party.
Why is this important?
While some states are no-fault states, Indiana is an at-fault state, meaning that at minimum, one driver is always responsible for the accident.
In Indiana, we have a negligence system that is referred to as “modified comparative fault,” which means that liability can be held by one or more parties involved in an accident. In order to file a claim and receive compensation, an individual must be responsible for less than 51% of the accident. Even if you are found to be liable for a percentage of the accident, you may still qualify for compensation due to the negligence of the other parties involved.
In general, if you know that you are correct and that the accident report is incorrect, don’t give up. If you are strong in your convictions and can convince an attorney that your case can be proven, you can still file a lawsuit based on the fact that you were not at fault. As far as who is at fault, the opinion of the police officer is not generally admissible in court. All sides will have to attempt to prove their case in front of a jury.
At Poyner & Bucheri Accident Recovery Attorneys, we are happy to talk to anybody about their case. Please call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.
Hi, my name is Richard Bucheri from Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery Attorneys. And this is a situation that happens every once in a while, I get phone calls on it, and it is a situation where the person thinks that the police report is wrong and they want to know what they can do. And particularly, a lot of times what happens is because the police report is wrong, the insurance company on the other side won’t pay any damages because they’re trying to say that their client was the one who was not at fault. And that the person that was injured is. And there are situations where police officers, just like everyone else, make mistakes. They don’t put the right person at fault, or they misplace the vehicles on the diagram, or they don’t identify a person correctly, or they don’t want to file a witness correctly, or they rely on a witness that got it wrong.
And so there are many situations where police reports can be wrong. And so while generally, that’s not the case, it’s certainly not unheard of. And so there are a couple of things that you can do. You can attempt to contact the police officer that did the police report and explain to them how the police report was wrong and has not been unprecedented that the police officer will then amend the police report and make something different. I had a situation where we had a driver that was said to be at fault based on the statements of both the drivers given at the scene. But then we found, later on, there was a video that basically showed that the statement of the, at first, not at fault driver actually put that person at fault. I mean, it was clear that in the video, that person was at fault.
And so we were able to show that to the police officer and the police officer changed the police report. So that is something that can be done. The other thing that I would say is that sometimes, you’re not going to get that police report done. But if you’re strong in your convictions that you can still prove your case and you can convince an attorney that you can prove your case, you can still file a lawsuit based on the fact that you were not at fault. That opinion of the police officer, as far as who was at fault, is not something that is generally admissible in court. So everybody’s going to have to prove their case, again, in front of a jury.
So just because the police report says you’re wrong, does not mean that you’re not able to move forward through the case. But you do have to understand that it does make it problematic, it does make it difficult. And if you have a case, it’s a 50/50 case, that can be a difficult case too, and you may not have a good opportunity to be able to get a lawyer to take that case on with the risk. But it’s always good to ask around. Usually, most consultations are free. And certainly here at Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery Attorneys, we’re happy to talk to anybody about their case. So if this is a situation that you’re in, please give us a call. Thanks.