What If The Cops Made a Mistake and My Police Accident Report Is Wrong?
If you have been involved in a vehicle accident where only minor damage occurred, it’s very unlikely that the police will even show up to the accident scene. It’s not feasible for local police departments to respond to every minor or fender bender crash simply because they don’t enough resources. Even though there will not a police report created for the accident, you will still have to notify the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles that an accident occurred.
If you have been involved in a vehicle accident where severe injury, death, or major property damage, it is very likely that the police will show up and respond to the accident scene. A few more reasons police will respond include an accident that is blocking a busy intersection, a reckless driver who is still on the loose, or if there is suspected alcohol or drug use. When the police arrive, they will be writing an official police report on the accident or incident.
Most drivers and injured victims don’t realize the importance that a police report can have on your case. Having said this, police reports are not absolute, and they often contain very important mistakes that drastically change the outcome of your case. We are writing this article so that you have a better understanding of how police reports work after the accident and what you need to do if they contain mistakes.
What Information Is Recorded on a Police Report?
Auto accident police reports are intended to be a short and sweet summary of the events that took place. They normally include general contact information such as the contact information of all people involved in the crash including their full names, home and work address, mobile phone numbers, birthday, drivers license #, and their auto insurance details.
If there are any witnesses of the accident, their information will be collected and recorded onto the report by the cops. All passengers will be asked to provide their version of what happened as well including how the accident occurred, the location of the crash, the date, what time it happened, and any other available information.
This report will many times include a determination of fault given by the police. They will directly say who they believe was responsible for causing the accident along with the actual vehicle code that the at fault driver violated. Unfortunately, not all police reports include an assessment of fault. Occasionally, the police will only give a vague clue about who they though were at fault. In some instances, the officer will blame poor weather conditions, mechanical failure, or road conditions as the most important contributing factor. The Police usually attribute fault to one of the drivers in almost all instances and it will have a substantial impact on your auto accident lawsuit.
The police will usually take their time when making the final determination of fault and is typically not something they do at the scene of the accident. Instead, they will later make this decision based on their notes, gathered information, and witness statements. Once they have made up their minds, they will create the final draft or version of the report. This process is usually completed within a week of the accident date and varies case to case. It’s also worth noting that every police report in the State of Michigan has its own service number assigned to it. You should request the number from the Police to make requesting a copy later easier.
How Does A Police Report Affect My Accident Case?
The way a police report can affect a case can be quite complicated but essentially it influences the insurance investigation and assessment. As mentioned previously, an accident police report usually includes an assessment of fault. The insurance company will begin their own investigation and it will typically rely very heavily on the official police report from the responding officer(s). They tend to take the determination of the police officer(s) very seriously and it holds a lot of weight in their eyes.
In some instances, the final determination of the insurance company may differ from the police report after their internal investigation. This show that just because the cops say something in their official report doesn’t make it necessarily final or good enough for the auto insurance companies. They have no issue coming up with their own conclusions about the accident and determining who at fault.
Overall, the insurance company doesn’t dispute or come up with a different finding all that often. Police reports are usually somewhat accurate, and their opinion is taken seriously. They are truly an independent source since the insurance company has financial incentive to attribute fault. Given all this information, it’s clear why the police report should be accurate and that there are no errors.
Are Police Reports Admissible as Evidence in Court
Generally, the simple answer is no. Some jurisdictions might allow it, but it certainly isn’t a widespread practice. The reason is that police reports are technically hearsay. The police officer was not present at the time of the accident and there is no ability to cross-examine a report. You shouldn’t worry too much if there are a few mistakes inside of the report because they are not admissible in court. We can still do a lot to help your case and we will still make it a priority to correct any mistakes. These reports still heavily influence the determination of fault issued by the insurance company so it’s still important to get all the mistakes correct if possible.
Can I Get My Own Copy of The Car Accident Police Report?
You can get a copy of your Michigan Police Report by going to the police department in person, making an official request via mail, or purchasing a copy online at the Michigan website. You can get a copy of your police report at the traffic crash purchasing system for most accidents. The police department does charge you a fee for processing the report. However, if you have been involved in a vehicle accident, we at The Clark Law Office will give you a free copy of the report. Just give us a call at (517) 347-6900 or fill out our confidential contact form. You are under no obligation to hire us and we will deliver it to you regardless if you choose us to represent you.
What Should I Do If There Is a Mistake in The Report?
If you notice one or mistakes contained in the accident report, then you can petition the police department that created the document for an amendment. Obviously, note all the desired changes will be accepted by the police department. You need evidence or to provide proof that the police officer made a mistake and even still is difficult to do. Typically, errors in accident reports are categorized into two separate categories.
This type of mistake is simply a factual error. This could be anything from the misspelling of your last name, using the wrong model and year vehicle, getting the color of the vehicle wrong, or some other easy to verify factual mistake. You will still need to provide proof of their mistake, but these factual mistakes are typically very easy to change and to correct.
Mistakes in Judgment
This type of mistake is much more difficult to change, but it is not impossible. Police Officers also make judgement errors occasionally. For example, let’s say that the police office stated in his report that you were speeding but you believe that you were not speeding. It’s hard to provide clear proof that you weren’t speeding and thus difficult for the police department to change the report to reflect your version of the accident. If you had your own dash-cam or can somehow give the police evidence that you weren’t speeding, they might be willing to change the report, and this would be very beneficial to your case. Another common example of a judgment error is a witness statement. If a witness is interviewed by the police and the officer includes this in the report, it is hard to remove if you think its inaccurate.
The best strategy when there is a judgement error committed by the police officer is to add your own story or version of the accident to the police report. They may not be willing to change the original report, but they will be more willing to add more information instead. It can still be difficult for them to change or add to the report at all. When you do get to correct a mistake, its critical to be as descriptive and thorough as humanly possible. This is something your attorney can help you with. You will need to include specific details along with providing relevant evidence. If you happened to make an untrue or incorrect statement to a police officer at the scene of the accident because of being in pain, shock, or disoriented, you will need to provide medical records and evidence that shows you were not capable of making a clear statement at that time.
Many times, the police officer will overlook important pieces of evidence and this is also a judgement error. If you can find more evidence that wasn’t included in the original report, there is a good chance it will be added. Since this type of addition does not contradict the officer’s statement, it is typically very easy to add it to the report.
Tips To Get Mistakes and Disputed Facts In a Police Report Amended
While it’s not easy to have a police report changed by the officer, you do not want to ignore them completely. Here are a few suggestions and tips on how to get a report corrected:
- Be as Polite as Possible – You will have a much easier time convincing the police to correct an error with the right approach. It’s usually best to speak directly with the officer before attempting to contact one of his supervisors.
- Provide Evidence of Documentation – If you provide documentation of the mistake, the officer will be more likely to correct if. For example, if he took down the wrong year and make vehicle you were driving, you could simply provide your vehicle registration as evidence of the mistake.
- Don’t Delay – Time is definitely not on your side when it comes to correcting a mistake on a police report. You will want to obtain the report as soon as it is available and contact the officer quickly if you find a factual mistake.
- Obtain and Provide Medical Records – If the statement given to the officer by you was unclear due to being in pain, shock, or on medication, it’s advised to provide medical reports showing this if you wish for him to change your statement.
- Give a Detailed Statement – As mentioned previously, it’s usually best to add your own version of events and attach it to the report. Be as detailed as possible and include pictures or any other pieces of documentation that you might have collected.
- Retain an Attorney – Factual errors are relatively easy to correct, but you will need the assistance of an experienced accident lawyer to correct the mistakes in judgement by the officer. You should have the attorney call the police on your behalf because they will be much more effective and will give a stronger statement while avoiding any possible mistakes.
Still Have Questions About Your Accident Report?
Our clients usually have all types of questions about accident reports. Many don’t know what they are, how to obtain a copy of them, how to read the report, or how to correct a mistake. These reports can seem intimidating and it’s normal for the average person to be slightly overwhelmed with the information contained within. Luckily, they are not as scary as they appear. Once you understand the layout of the report, they are easy to read. If there is a mistake, you can correct it. All that is required it a little effort and the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer. We can help make sure that your accident report is accurate and that it helps your case instead of hurting it.