How Do You Fix an Incorrect Police Accident Report? Errors, Amendments, and Additions
What Is a Police Report and Why Is It Important?
Police reports are official documents created by the responding law enforcement officer at a car accident or other incident. They are used as official evidence in claims made after the accident and are often instrumental in determining fault and liability.
It is vital that the details on the police report are accurate, as any mistakes could lead to major disruption in a subsequent claim and could make it more difficult for victims to receive the compensation they are owed.
What Details are Usually Included?
The time and place an accident or incident occurred.
Names, contact details, and insurance information of everyone involved (including their driver's license if it is a crash report)
Description of all property damage
Description of all injuries received
Photographs and diagrams detailing the accident and its results
Any laws broken and by who
Names and contact details of witnesses and their statements, if relevant
All relevant information regarding the conditions at the time of the accident or incident
A brief statement from the police officer summarizing the accident and possibly their opinion of who may be at fault
In short, the police report includes all the important details of what happened at the scene of the accident, when it happened, and who was involved.
Can Changes Be Made to Police Reports After the Fact?
It is possible to have changes made to police reports, but it is at the discretion of the responding police department whether or not they want to cooperate. Sometimes, rather than changing a report, a supplemental report is added with additional information, but it is not held to the same standard as the original report.
There are two categories of police report inaccuracies that people may want changed.
Factual errors are undeniable mistakes that are not based on opinions and generally have minimal impact on police report findings. Examples of factual errors include:
The wrong street name where a car accident occurred
A spelling error in the name of one of the parties involved
Incorrect make or model of a car
Inaccurate times recorded for the accident
In every instance, it is vital to provide evidence to support the correct information. It should not be difficult to get their details changed since they are generally not up for dispute.
Where it gets more difficult is when the information in question relies on opinion and is not clean-cut. Disputed information can make or break a case, especially after an auto accident.
These disputes generally come when incidents are detailed on the report in a way that differs from how the person involved in the accident believes they transpired. If someone is hit by another driver who ran a red light, but the police report says the light was green, it could seriously interfere with their claim.
Other examples include:
A report that says someone was not speeding when they were, or vice versa
Failure to record that one driver was over the legal alcohol limit
Details in a witness statement that don't match the events as the driver remembers them
The problem with disputed facts and information is that it can be word against word unless there is camera footage or other evidence to prove otherwise. If a police officer has concluded that there was a green light, they are unlikely to admit they were wrong just because the claimant says the light was red.
To get disputed information changed, undeniable evidence must be presented, and it is best to have the support of a personal injury attorney in Indianapolis when pursuing the request.
What Is the Process for Getting Changes Made On a Police Report?
The process for having changes made to a police report is both simple and complicated. It is simple in the sense that a person only has to contact, request, and wait, but when requests are ignored or denied, it can be trickier.
Contact the Police Officer Immediately
As soon as a mistake is discovered, the first step is to contact the reporting officer immediately. If the error is clear, it could be possible to convince the officer to make the change themselves quickly and easily. Having an attorney assist with the request (at least the evidence supporting it) is advisable.
Bear in mind that most officers will not make changes easily.
File an Official Complaint with the Police Department
If the request does not work, the next step is to file an official complaint against the reporting officer with their department. A lawyer can put together a detailed complaint with all the evidence to support the fact that mistakes were made.
An official complaint may not necessarily lead to changes, but it could be enough to support a case for having charges dropped or at least lessened.
Tips for Handling Requests to Amend a Police Report
Act as soon as possible.
The faster a person reacts to a mistake in a police report, the greater the chance they have of getting it changed. In some cases, it is possible to catch errors before reports are finalized, which is preferable whenever possible. Waiting until later in a case to report inaccurate information on a police report is generally not taken kindly- and may be viewed as suspicious.
Present a strong case.
Law enforcement agencies are not going to change details on their police reports without undeniable proof that mistakes were made. Without evidence and documentation, an amendment request is unlikely to even be taken seriously.
Keep frustration out of it, and remember that there is no guarantee that the reporting officer will agree to make changes. The attitude a person has when requesting changes can play a huge role in how easy the process is. Police officers respond to polite, calm, and respectful approaches- not rude, angry, and frustrated claimants.
Go directly to the responding officer, not their supervisor.
It is best to speak first to the law enforcement officer who responded when the accident happened. Speaking directly with them about errors is better than going over their head. They may remember details from the accident scene once the claimant presents their evidence and be happy to correct it. Go behind their back, and they may get defensive when asked about mistakes.
While it is possible to have a police report corrected if there are factual errors, it is not as straightforward as people may think. When it comes to changing disputed information, there could be a battle to have the police report changed at all.
Every police department handles things differently, but most do not want to make any changes to accident reports without solid evidence. If a person believes there is a mistake or false information in the actual police report used in their case, they must act quickly, politely, and with proof on their side. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on proving fault in personal injury accidents.
An experienced lawyer can help manage interactions with police officers when requesting report changes in car accident claims and other personal injury cases. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys of Indianapolis, Indiana, go to war for victims to ensure fair representation, truthful reports, justice, and the compensation they deserve. They can go over personal injury demand letter basics as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a supplemental report?
A supplemental police report is used as an extension to the original report when additional evidence or details are revealed. It does not amend the report, but it adds more information- including new witness statements and relevant details discovered after the investigating officer submitted their report.
The original reporting officer must be the one to submit a supplemental report.
Can an incorrect car accident police report impact a personal injury case?
Absolutely. A police report is evidence that is taken seriously in a claim. If the report is wrong, the legal teams on either side do not have accurate facts to use to back their cases.
In car accidents, for example, an inaccurate police report that has the wrong speed noted for the victim's car at the time of the accident could jeopardize their chance of a settlement. Even simple factual errors can be used by defense teams to confuse proceedings.
Is it possible to get a copy of a car accident report from the police?
Yes, it is important to have a copy of the official police report after a car accident because it is vital in the case of a personal injury claim. The process for getting a copy of a police report for a car accident case is as follows.
Contact the officer or department that investigated the car accident. If the person is not sure what the department is or who to contact, go through the Sherriff's Office, State Highway Patrol, or the municipal police department, and they can find it for them.
In most cases, anyone requesting a car accident report must complete a report request form (online forms are available with many police departments, but not all). As long as the details are filled out correctly, and they can verify the authenticity of the request, a copy should be provided.
Depending on the police department, there may be a fee for getting a copy of a police report.