When the police are called to the scene of an accident, the responding officer will submit an official report to his department detailing the crash. This police report can be a very valuable tool during a car accident-related personal injury claim. It can also be damaging to the victim if the information is incorrect or, in your opinion, misrepresented. So, what options do accident victims have if they disagree with a police report?
Addressing Factual Errors in a Police Report
In some cases, the error in the police report may be a simple, factual error. Police officers are human, and they make mistakes. Perhaps the time of the accident was inaccurately reported, or a witness’s phone number was entered incorrectly. These small mistakes can matter to a case, and they can be changed fairly easily by contacting the officer. The officer can revise the report or include an addendum that notes the correct information.
When the Police Report Error Is More Complicated
In other cases, the misinformation may not be as straightforward. Perhaps the officer lists you as the at-fault party, which you dispute. Or a witness may have provided a statement you feel is inaccurate or incomplete. This is a gray area, and it can be more difficult to address. Contacting the officer may provide resolution, but if it does not, your options may be limited. You may write up your own version of events and submit it to law enforcement, asking them to attach your version with the police report. However, it is up to their discretion, and they may choose to ignore your document.
Overcoming a Police Report Error
In either case, the error may not be as devastating as you fear. Typically, a police report is not admissible as evidence in an accident claim. It is considered hearsay because the police officer did not actually witness the accident and is reporting only what was told to him by others.
The report is, however, often cited by insurance companies when negotiating a settlement. At those times, it is important to gather and cite evidence that supports your claim of an incorrect police report. At those times, an experienced injury attorney can help provide strength and substance to your story to ensure that your voice is heard.
At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims investigate, prepare, and navigate a successful injury claim. He understands how overwhelming the process can be, and he is here to help Alaskans obtain the justice and compensation they need to move forward after a crash. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, call Ben’s office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch directly with Ben, who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.