How to Read an Accident Report
Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2021 at 3:40 pm
If you need to file an insurance claim or initiate a lawsuit, an accident report is a vital document following a motor vehicle crash. An officer investigating the accident often includes information related to the cause and events leading up to it. They might offer their opinion about which party they believe was at fault and notate whether they issued any traffic citations.
Accident reports can be confusing to read, especially if you’re not familiar with them. Below is a detailed outline of the information you could find in an accident report, so you understand what you’re reading.
Most accident reports begin with basic information regarding the crash, such as:
- Accident date
- Time of the crash
- Street, road, intersections, and city or town where the accident occurred
- Accident report number
- Name of the police officer writing the report
Another section includes details about each driver involved in the crash. If there are multiple drivers, the report lists each one by number. The driver section can include details, such as:
- Name of the driver
- Driver’s address and phone number
- Name of the vehicle owner
- Vehicle owner’s address and phone number
- Driver’s license number and the state where it was issued
- The vehicle color, year, make, and model
- Vehicle license plate number
- Vehicle identification number
- Auto insurance information, including the name of the carrier and policy number
Additional Occupants and Non-Motorists
Sometimes, accidents involve pedestrians or bicyclists and passengers in the motor vehicles involved. Another section will list these individuals and details, including:
- Name of the occupant and their position in the vehicle
- Name of the non-motorist
- Addresses and phone numbers of the individuals
One particular section provides details about the crash itself. The information it contains might include:
- The direction the vehicles were moving at the time of the collision
- Point of impact, such as front or side collision
- Contributing cause of the accident, such as speeding or failure to yield the right of way
- Events associated with the crash, such as impacting a wall, pedestrian, or another vehicle
- Any defects with the cars, such as a worn-out tire or malfunctioning brake system
- Actions of any pedestrians involved
- Conditions of the road
- Weather conditions
- Whether it was light or dark outside
- Traffic violations issued, including the name of the violator and charge against them
Other sections might contain additional information that could be relevant to a case the injured party pursues. Common details include:
- Type and location of vehicle damage
- The estimated cost of the vehicle damage
- Injuries suffered by the involved parties
- Whether an ambulance showed up at the scene
- Whether the ambulance transported anyone to the hospital and the name of the hospital
- Skid marks, debris in the road, and other relevant information
Narrative and Diagram
Almost all accident reports have a page where the investigating officer can write a brief description of how and why they believe the crash occurred. The information can indicate what each driver was doing just before the accident, such as turning at an intersection or slowing down for a red light.
Law enforcement typically obtains these details by discussing the circumstances with everyone involved in the collision. They might also talk to eyewitnesses who saw what happened.
There is also a diagram the officer can use to reconstruct the events leading up to the accident. The diagram can show the direction of travel for the vehicles and include lines or other markings to indicate the driver’s moves prior to the crash.
The Importance of an Accident Report
Interpreting the information on an accident report can be a challenge. The aftermath of a car crash is often confusing, scary, and overwhelming. Pursuing a case against the at-fault driver while trying to heal your injuries can become a significant source of stress.
It’s crucial for you to understand the details contained in a crash report, so you can proceed knowing how to handle the legal process. If the report mentions that you were at fault, it’s unlikely you will receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
However, the accident report isn’t the only evidence you can present during your case. Many of the details the investigating officer includes in the report are their opinions. It isn’t necessarily a fact that one person’s actions contributed to the crash over someone else’s. Law enforcement uses the information presented to them to interpret the sequences of events leading up to the accident.
If you were involved in a car accident and believe someone else’s negligent actions were to blame, do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC. We can meet you for a free consultation to discuss the incident and determine whether you have a case to pursue. You can depend on our legal team to advocate for your rights and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.