I disagree with the police report that was written up after my car accident. What can I do?

A police report can make or make a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit, so it's important to address errors as soon as you can.

By , J.D. | Updated by Stacy Barrett, Attorney
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  • Question

    I disagree with the police report that was written up after my car accident. What can I do?

    Answer

    After a car accident, especially an accident involving injuries, a law enforcement officer may come to the scene and write a police report. The officer's report typically includes:

    • the names and statements of drivers, passengers, and witnesses to the crash
    • a description of vehicle damage and road debris, and
    • a drawn diagram of the accident.

    Some reports also include car accident scene photos and potentially even the officer's opinion about who caused or contributed to the car accident.

    Insurance adjusters rely heavily on police reports when they review an injury or vehicle damage claim after a car accident. If you think a police report contains inaccurate or incomplete information about your accident, you may be able to get an officer to amend (change) or supplement the report depending on the type of error you're contesting.

    Factual Errors

    Factual errors are the easiest to correct. If the law enforcement officer got an objective fact wrong—details about your vehicle, your insurance coverage, or the location of the accident, for example—you can probably have the officer change or supplement the report if you provide evidence of the correct information.

    For example, if the report says that your birthday is September 15, 1998, and your actual birthday is September 15, 1989, you can bring your driver's license to the police department or highway patrol that responded to the accident and ask for a correction. The officer who wrote the original report will likely write a supplemental report explaining the error and providing the correct information.

    Transcription Errors

    Police officers are human and sometimes they make mistakes. Most officers take notes at the scene, often under pressure, and then compile them in a report in the hours or days after an incident. Sometimes their notes are wrong or hard to fully make sense of after the fact.

    For example, let's say you told the officer that the other driver appeared to be going at least 45 mph in a 25 mph zone. But the police report says you said the other driver was going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. You can reach out to the officer and politely explain what you remember about the other driver's speed and what you recall telling the officer after the accident. Maybe your conversation will refresh the officer's memory about your statement at the scene or maybe the officer recorded your original statement and can amend the report to reflect what you actually said.

    Errors of Omission

    Omission means to leave, exclude, or skip something. So a police report that contains an error of omission is a report that doesn't include a fact or statement that should have been included.

    For example, you may have told the officer that your neck and back were sore after the accident, but the report might not mention your injuries in the report. Your injuries might not have seemed like a big deal to the reporting officer, but having documentation of your car accident injuries can help you win a car insurance claim or car accident lawsuit. You can treat an error of omission like a transcription error and politely reach out to the officer to see if you can refresh the officer's memory.

    Disputed Information: Next Steps

    If you don't agree with subjective information in the report—a description of the accident given by a witness, or the officer's finding that you violated a traffic law—you'll have a tougher time getting the report changed.

    For example, if the officer concludes that you were speeding and you don't agree with that conclusion, the officer is unlikely to be swayed to adopt your point of view. The officer's conclusion is going to stay in the report. At best, you can ask for your version of events to be included in the original report or documented in a supplemental report. The same goes for a disputed witness statement. You can't "correct" a witness's statement about how an accident happened, but you can make sure that your version of events is included in the report. You might want to talk to a car accident lawyer before making a statement about the accident. Any statement you make can be used against you in your insurance claim or in court.

    And remember, just because a subjective statement is included in a police report, doesn't make it a fact. You can always challenge someone's opinion or recollection about the accident during the insurance claim process or in court.

    Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

    Police reports can make or break some car accident claims. If you disagree with facts or conclusions in a car accident police report, talk to a lawyer. A lawyer can answer your questions about police reports and help you figure out if it's possible—and strategically wise—to try to get the report changed.

    Learn more about how a car accident lawyer can help you. You can also connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

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