My California Car Accident Police Report Is Wrong | What Do I Do?
It's not uncommon for car accident victims to receive a copy of the report and find that some information is incorrect.
Some people feel they were wrongly determined to be at fault for the accident, while others note there are factual errors and missing information.
Understandably, potential clients have multiple questions and need to know what to do if the car accident police report is wrong.
Importance of the Police Report
Police reports are often invaluable pieces of evidence in a car accident.
They can include a wealth of helpful information that can help prove your version of the events, such as:
- Accident details (time, date, place, etc.);
- Contact information for all involved parties;
- Statement from the drivers;
- Witness contact and statement;
- Injury documentation;
- Damage to vehicles;
- Photographs and a scene diagram;
- Citations issued; and
- Narrative from officer and opinion of fault.
Insurance companies typically request police reports to help in their investigation.
If there is an inaccurate police report, it can affect the investigation and your interactions with the other driver's insurance company.
The Police Report Is Wrong; What Do I Do?
Police report mistakes can take various forms. The officer may have the right finding of fault, but other factual details may be missing.
Some of the most common errors we see in car accident police reports include:
- Wrong physical description of damages;
- Incorrect list of drivers versus passengers;
- Lack of injury description;
- Inconsistencies with the crash diagram; and
- Mistakes in officer narrative.
If you suspect there is a problem, you need to know how to fix an incorrect police report.
Start by making a list of the mistakes in the report. If you have new information or evidence that supports these inaccuracies, get copies.
You should attempt to contact the officer who wrote the report to advise them of the mistake. The evidence you have should be significant enough to change the outcome of the original report.
If the error is a minor one and has no real impact on your case, you may not need to do anything. The police won't make small changes to a police report when it doesn't affect the outcome.
You need to act quickly. It is easier to request mistakes be corrected before the report is finalized. Document your attempts in writing.
You should ask for the email addresses of the contact parties and create a digital paper trail.
Hiring a Los Angeles personal injury attorney is also recommended. Your attorney can contact the police department directly to request that the officer address the report's mistakes.
A request coming from an attorney may carry more weight.
Can a Police Report Be Amended?
Unfortunately, getting a police report amended is not necessarily an easy task.
In some cases, the police department may issue a supplemental report that corrects the original report's inconsistencies.
If the police department refuses to amend the report, you can request that they allow you to attach a statement to the official report.
How the Police Report Affects Liability
The police report can carry some weight in regard to the liability investigation.
If the police officer decides you are the primary cause of the collision, the other driver's insurance company will use that to their advantage.
The other driver's insurance company is likely to deny your claim if they believe their insured was not at fault.
Although they may deny your claim, your attorney can file a lawsuit and pursue compensation through litigation.
Fault and liability are not always straightforward, no matter what the police report says.
California is a pure comparative negligence state.
That means you have the legal right to claim compensation for your damages, even if you are 99% at fault. Your percentage of liability will reduce your damages award.
For example, if a jury finds you 70% at fault, you could collect up to 30% of your damages.
Because of the state's negligence laws, it may be worth pursuing a claim, even after the other driver's insurance company denies liability.
Will Errors on the Police Report Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
Depending on the errors, an incorrect police report can impact your claim in several ways.
The other driver's insurance company may not be as amenable to settle if they know the police report favors their insured.
If the officer misstated factual information or didn't document your injuries, it may be necessary to hire industry experts who can testify on your behalf.
For example, consider a situation where the police incorrectly listed the vehicle damage and severity.
To counter incorrect information about the vehicle damage, you may need scene photos, repair estimates, a statement from the repair shop, or even an accident reconstructionist.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
The best way to minimize the potential impact of police report errors on your injury claim is to hire a skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorney.
At Starpoint Law, our attorneys have years of experience assisting clients just like you.
We routinely represent injured victims whose claims are complicated by police report mistakes. We have a proven record of success and can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help with all your personal injury needs.