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Article: Can You Correct Errors on a Police Report After a Car Accident?, Car Accident

Can You Correct Errors on a Police Report After a Car Accident?

police report make changes

One of the first questions you might be asked by the insurance company following a car accident is whether you have a copy of the police report. Both your lawyer and the insurance company will want to review the report written by the officer who responded to your accident scene. Unfortunately, however, police officers sometimes make mistakes when they write their reports. An inaccurate police report can greatly complicate your accident claim, making it important to try to correct it. It is possible to have the police officer correct their report, but you should move quickly to avoid the other party from claiming that you are only trying to have changes made to the report out of financial motivations. Here is what you need to understand about police reports and how to correct any mistakes that you might find.

Why Is the Police Report Important?

The police officer who responds to your accident scene will write a report, which is a document that includes important information about your collision. Some of the details about your accident that will be included in the police report include the following:

  • Date, time, and location
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Contact information of each involved driver
  • Contact information of all witnesses
  • Driver and witness statements
  • Diagrams of the accident to present a clearer picture of what occurred
  • Photographs of the collision and the damage
  • Details about injuries
  • Any citations issued by the officer
  • The officer’s initial determination of fault

Police reports are critical in car accident cases since they help to provide a roadmap for the insurance company and your attorney to understand the events that caused the accident and injuries and who is responsible. Insurance adjusters heavily rely on police reports when they review the damage and injury claims following car accidents. If you believe the report the officer wrote in your case, you might be able to convince the officer to change or supplement their report, depending on which type of error you find.

Why Are Mistakes Made in Police Reports

Police officers are human and sometimes make mistakes. Some of the reasons why a police officer might make mistakes in a police report include the following:

  • Failing to exercise objective accuracy
  • Mistakes made because of conflicting accounts

Some of the common types of mistakes that might be made in police reports include factual errors, transcription errors, and errors of omission.

Factual errors are the simplest type of mistakes to correct. If an officer made a mistake about an objective fact, such as your insurance coverage, the makes and models of the involved vehicles, or the accident’s location, you can likely get the officer to change the report by providing evidence of the correct information.

Transcription errors also sometimes occur. Officers typically take notes while they are at the scene of an accident and later compile their notes into a report several hours or days later. In some cases, their notes are wrong or difficult to make sense of later, resulting in mistakes. For example, if you told the officer at the scene that you thought the other driver was likely traveling about 50 mph in a 20 mph speed zone but see that the report says you thought the other motorist was instead traveling around 5 mph over the speed limit, you can contact the officer and explain what you remember. Your conversation may refresh the officer’s memory and get them to agree to amend the report to accurately reflect what you said.

Errors of omission occur when an officer fails to include something important in the report. For example, if you told the officer that you thought you might be injured, but the officer leaves out your statement about possible injuries and includes no information about injuries at all, you might want to have this corrected. Having documentation that your injuries occurred in your car accident can be critical for your car accident claim.

How to Correct Mistakes in the Police Report

To have corrections made to a police report, you can call the non-emergency line of the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident. Ask for the report to be corrected. The officer might not issue a full correction, but they might write a supplement to the original report stating that you wanted to correct the report and add the supplement to the original. The sooner you try to get corrections made to the police report, the better. Getting a police report corrected early can help to minimize the chance that the at-fault driver will claim you were only attempting to change the police report because of a financial motive.

When you contact the officer, you should be prepared for some pushback. The officer might resist making changes to the critical elements of their report. You will need to gather and present evidence that supports the reason for your requested changes. IN some cases, gathering and presenting evidence will be simple. For example, if the officer spelled your name wrong or provided the wrong birthdate for you, you can show your driver’s license to get them to correct it. Similarly, if the officer claimed you were the driver of the at-fault vehicle, bringing in a copy of your vehicle registration should be enough to show that you were the driver of the other car. For other types of errors, however, it might be more difficult to get the report changed or amended. Here are some steps to take to be prepared for potential mistakes in police reports.

1. Gather Evidence

After a traffic collision, you should collect as much evidence at the accident scene as possible. Take photographs of the crash scene, including the weather, road conditions, both involved vehicles, and your injuries. Write down all of the details you recall, including the weather, information about your vehicle and that of the other driver, the time and date, whether you had any passengers, the date and time, and what you were doing immediately before the collision. You should also document what you saw the other motorist do before your collision, how the other driver reacted to the accident, and whether you suffered any injuries.

Your lawyer can also send a preservation letter to the other involved drivers, which is a formal request for them to preserve any evidence they might have.

2. Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

Once you have gathered evidence, you should speak to an experienced car accident attorney at Lamber Goodnow. Trying to fix mistakes on a police report on your own can be difficult. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can present your evidence to the officer and get them to make the necessary changes or amend their reports.

3. Ask the Police Officer to Update Their Report

Police officers are always busy. Unless your request for changes to an accident report is supported by evidence, the officer might not be responsive to your request. In a complicated case, it is best to work with an attorney instead of trying to get the corrections made yourself. Even if the changes are relatively minor, having documentation and evidence ready can make it likelier that you will be taken seriously. Ask for the reporting officer’s and sergeant’s emails to ensure that your request and their responses will be in writing.

4. Be Polite and Respectful

Whenever you are telling an officer that they made a mistake that you need to be corrected, you should be polite and respectful. The officer likely didn’t intentionally make errors. If you are polite and respectful, you are likelier to receive a favorable response as compared to being rude, accusatory, or demanding.

Contact Lamber Goodnow

If you have discovered that the police report from your car accident includes critical errors, you should speak to an experienced attorney at Lamber Goodnow. We can help to review your case and advise you about how to get any errors corrected. Contact us today to request a free consultation to learn more about your rights.

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