Last updated on February 15, 2019 by Accident Monitoring Team
Nobody’s perfect: sometimes even the police can get things wrong. But when it comes to documenting the facts of a car accident, the truth is important. Details that are incorrectly documented could see you being held responsible for an accident that was no fault of your own.
That’s why you should always seek to amend a police report if it doesn’t reflect what happened to you during an accident. Here’s how to do it.
How Police Reports Work When It Comes to Car Accident Claims
Believe it or not, in most cases written police reports are not admissible as evidence in court cases. However, this doesn’t mean that these reports aren’t used to make a number of determinations, such as deciding fault for the accident and recording important information regarding the collision. This can include statements from drivers and passengers, witness statements, and contact information for everyone involved.
Legally, the police report is the first stop for both claims adjusters and attorneys whenever a lawsuit or insurance claim is filed. This means that any information entered into a police report, such as a witness stating that the traffic light was still green when you entered the intersection, will carry a lot of weight. This is one of the primary reasons why the narrative the police report provides is as clear and as factual as possible — and why you may need to have it amended.
What Happens Once You Discover an Error in a Police Report
People make mistakes, and police officers are just as capable of incorrectly recording the information they gather at the scene of an accident as anyone else. Sometimes these errors are so minor as to not have a material effect on a car insurance claim; others, though, might throw a major monkey wrench in the works.
Believe it or not, you do have some recourse when it comes to having a police report altered after the fact. It’s not impossible to amend a police report or to request a supplemental report to provide additional clarification. However, the process for correcting information can differ whether it’s considered factual or if it’s disputed.
How to Amend a Police Report with Factual Errors
A police report with factual errors is one that contains mistakes in the way objective information is recorded. Examples of this are often straightforward; if a driver’s Social Security number isn’t recorded correctly, or if their address or phone number is wrong, these are all objective facts that can be amended with ease.
Correcting this information is usually done by simply providing evidence of the correct information. In this case, providing documentation with your proper address, phone number, or SSN would be more than enough to resolve the issue. It’s quite often a matter of contacting the officer who prepared the report in the first place with your proof. Depending on the policy of the specific police department, the officer will either correct the report itself or file a supplemental report with the correct information.
How to Amend a Police Report with Disputed Facts
While it’s easy to amend a police report when there are objective facts recorded incorrectly, it’s much more of a challenge to alter one when you — or your attorney — disagree with the conclusions reached by the report. Additionally, if events during or after the accident are characterized in the report in a way that you disagree with, you will also face a tougher battle amending the record to reflect a more truthful chain of events.
For example, you can’t dispute something like witness testimony, even if you know that the perceptions of that witness differ than what really happened. Also, if you’re misquoted by the report in a way that reflects poorly on you, you’re unlikely to be able to have the record changed to reflect the true intentions of your words.
In this case, your best bet is to create another account of the incident, paying specific attention to the disputed facts. This document can then be submitted to the officer who wrote the initial report, along with the request that it be added to the report as a supplemental document. In the majority of police departments, doing so is at the discretion of the officer. This ultimately means that it’s not entirely your decision to amend a police report in this manner, as it’s up to the officer. However, chances are good that, if you’re polite and respectful, the officer in question will exercise his or her discretion on your behalf.