When you file a car accident claim with an insurance company, an insurance adjuster will review the official police report and other evidence to determine who was at fault and whether the claim should be paid. What happens if there are errors in a police report that cast inaccurate blame on you? Could you lose out on the compensation you need?
First, it is always advisable to obtain and review the police report as soon as possible after a car accident. Mistakes happen. Though police reports by themselves cannot be used to prove driver negligence in a lawsuit in South Carolina, insurance companies rely heavily on police reports when processing claims and negotiating pre-trial settlements. If a claim goes to court, the responding police officer’s testimony will be based on their report.
If you see an error of fact in a police report, you should try to contact the officer, deputy, or highway patrolman and ask to have the report corrected or amended. Unfortunately, there is no official procedure for disputing the contents of a police report. Some law enforcement officers are more cooperative than others. That’s why working with an attorney is important.
When handling your accident claim, an attorney at Joye Law Firm may be able to help if there is incorrect information in the police report filed after your South Carolina crash. Our attorneys are known to have helped clients when others have been unsuccessful. We can help with an accident claim. Call us at (888) 324-3100 or fill out an online contact form to speak with a car accident lawyer in Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, Summerville, or Myrtle Beach today.
What Can You Do to Fix a Mistake in the Report?
If there is a factual error in a police report – objective information such as a name or date that is incorrect– you’ll have more luck getting it changed. If you are seeking to change disputed facts – such as about how the accident occurred or who was at fault – you will have a tougher task.
In either case, you should be allowed to make a request and state your case to set the record straight.
First, obtain and review the report to see whether there are instructions for correcting an inaccurate police report. There may be instructions on the department’s website. If there are, follow them to the letter. If there are no instructions, find the responding officer’s name, any contact information available, and the assigned case or report number.
Act as soon as you can to contact the law enforcement officer directly or whomever you can within the department and be prepared to …
- State exactly what it is you think should be corrected and where it is on the report. The sections of the police report are labeled.
- Provide evidence that shows the correct information, such as a witness’s written statement.
- Provide medical records or a doctor’s letter describing any medical conditions you have (which, for example, can cause slurred speech) or medications you take, which may have affected how the report depicts your actions or demeanor after the accident.
- Provide a written narrative statement or photographs that tell your version of events. Ask that the information be attached as an addendum to the report. This should be typed and as accurate and specific as possible. Keep a copy.
- Ask for a written response as to whether the officer will be able to accommodate your request.
In all dealings with the police, you need to be polite and business-like. State only facts that you can back up. Don’t cast blame for the accident or mistakes in the report on others. Do not accept blame for a car accident. If the officer who filed the report is uncooperative, contact the department and ask for that officer’s supervisor. Then, submit your request to that individual.
Talk to a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney
Police arrive at car accident scenes after the fact and have to decide how to explain what happened. They may draw incorrect conclusions from what drivers and witnesses say because of conflicting information. They may misinterpret physical evidence. Sometimes they simply write something down wrong or check the wrong box. Regardless, you have the right to set the record straight, according to the way you see it.
It is best to act to change a police report as soon as possible. Joye Law Firm can help you have a police report amended while you focus on your injuries and other issues in the aftermath of a car accident. We can meet with you for a free, no-obligation discussion of your car accident and work to correct the record for you. If you are unsure whether you need to hire a lawyer, complete our free accident questionnaire.