Georgia law enforcement officers responsible for attending the scene of a motor vehicle crash are responsible for submitting a crash report to the Georgia Department of Transportation. These crash reports are a necessary part of recording accidents.
As a driver or passenger, you must know how to read a Georgia accident report to confirm the validity of the information presented and to pursue your claim. With car accidents in Georgia being the second leading cause of hospitalization and death, the chances of being involved in an accident are higher than you might think.
In this guide, we show you what a Georgia accident report entails, how to read it, and why these reports are so essential.
Understanding Georgia’s Crash Report
What are Georgia Crash Report Codes?
Every crash report in Georgia will receive an accident report overlay, which details what each number means. Unlike other states, Georgia appends letters and numbers to each category, such as injury, airbag deployment, vehicular damage, and lighting conditions.
Due to the extensive detail in these reports, it can be challenging to understand the meaning of each section. However, these codes are also beneficial because they provide an objective, standardized assessment of each part of an accident.
So, what do Georgia accident report codes look like?
Let’s look at some examples of the “area of initial contact” section:
- 0 – Vehicle was overturned.
- 1-12 – Area of the vehicle where contact was made based on a standard clock face.
- 13 – The vehicle was hit on the roof.
- 14 – The vehicle was hit on the undercarriage.
- 15 – No contact with the vehicle was made.
Not every section in Georgia accident reports have so many numbers. Many categories have a simple one-to-five coding system, such as for lighting conditions. On the other hand, some may use simple wording to document vital information, such as the damage caused to a vehicle. Here’s how the “damage to vehicle” code works:
- None – No vehicular damage. This is most common when a vehicle hits a pedestrian.
- Slight – Often used in “fender bender” incidents.
- Moderate – This is the most common type of code used.
- Extensive – Assigned to vehicles that have likely been totaled.
- Fire Present – This is especially important because fire can radically change the damage to a vehicle.
The complexity of the coding system is why every accident report will receive a specific overlay to help you read your report.
Are Crash Reports Mandatory in Georgia?
Crash reports are mandatory in specific situations. According to Georgia Code section 40-6-273, the police must be called, and an accident report must be filled out in the following two circumstances:
- An accident results in an injury or fatality.
- An accident results in property damage of $500 or more.
Each law enforcement agency is responsible for filing reports with the Georgia Department of Transportation as soon as possible. As always, it’s in your best interests to call the police and have them investigate the incident.
If an accident doesn’t meet the above two conditions, you can fill out your own crash report but shouldn’t file it with the appropriate agency. According to FindLaw, you should submit your report to your auto insurer.
Who Fills Out an Accident Report?
The relevant law enforcement agency is responsible for filling out a formal accident report. However, if you are involved in a minor accident that does not necessitate a police response, you can download and fill out your own form for use by your insurer.
All drivers, passengers, and witnesses are bound to cooperate with any crash investigation, and it remains an offense to provide inaccurate information.
How to Read a Georgia Police Accident Report
Page 1, Part 1 – Basic Information About the Accident
The first step in how to read a police accident report is beginning with the top boxes. This will provide basic information about the accident and your unique report number, which the attending officer will give to all parties.
Basic information in this part of your report includes:
- Date of incident
- Original/supplemental accident report
- Any amendments made
Page 1, Part 2 – Listing of All the Parties Involved
The next step in how to read a Georgia accident report is to check the information of the parties and vehicles involved. In part two, you will see:
- Driver names
- Driver addresses
- Driver phone numbers
- Vehicular insurance information
- Vehicle information, like make, model, year, and VIN
In Georgia, the first named driver is usually considered the at-fault driver, regardless of whether a ticket or citation was issued.
Page 1, Part 3 – Contributing Factors to the Accident
This is part of your accident report that will detail information like vehicular damage and what the officer believed caused the accident. Information can include:
- Road conditions
- Direction of travel
- The initial point of contact
- Vehicle maneuvers
- Vehicle speeds at the time of impact
- Vehicular damage
It will also list any citations issued, including statute codes. Additionally, you will see the attending officer’s information, like their badge number.
Any insurance adjuster or attorney will pay considerable attention to this section when managing your claim.
Page 2 – Narrative, Diagram, and Other Information
Page two is another vital area of your accident report, whether involving Georgia fatal accident reports or minor incidents. On this page, you will see:
- An officer’s narrative of the accident.
- A pictorial diagram of the accident.
- Details on any citations issued to drivers.
- A complete list of the vehicle occupants.
Remember, the information presented on page two is merely the officer’s opinion. However, it’s vital to dispute any inaccuracies early because your crash report will be considered the most crucial evidence in any claim.
What to Do if There’s a Mistake in Your Report?
All police officers are human, meaning they can make mistakes. The problem is that if a mistake remains uncorrected, the accident risks becoming part of your permanent record at the Georgia Department of Public Safety. It can also impact your ability to make a successful claim.
Furthermore, incorrections may appear on an accident report published under public disclosure rules O.C.G.A. §50-18-72.
However, you must beware that correcting an accident report is complex. Police officers are busy and may attend several accidents per day, meaning their memories could fade.
To correct your report, you should contact the police department listed on your accident report and quote your unique report number.
Again, it is essential that you do this because insurance adjusters typically follow what is on the accident report.
Can a Crash Report Benefit Me?
One of the most common concerns is that an accident report in Georgia could be used against you if the other driver pursues legal action and your case finds its way to court. However, under Georgia’s laws, any report filed with the Department of Transportation cannot be used as evidence of negligence within a court of law.
In other words, accident reports cannot be used to recover damages. So, why should you know how to read a Georgia MVR report or a uniform accident report?
Filing a report has the following benefits:
- Strong Evidence – Crash reports are vital evidence in pursuing a claim because they come from a person in a position of authority, meaning they are viewed as highly reliable sources.
- Insurance Claims – All insurance claims rely heavily on the information contained within an accident report.
- Unbiased View – Another reason police reports help to pursue your case is that they are classified as unbiased. The attending officer has nothing to gain through your claim, so it is essential to have this document available when pursuing your claim.
Note that most auto insurers will ask you to provide a copy of your accident report when making a claim. This is why you should note your unique report number at the accident scene to make it easier to find.
Where Can I Find My Georgia Accident Report?
Several ways exist to request a copy of your crash report. On a side note, crash reports in Georgia are not free, so expect to pay a fee, regardless of how you decide to order your report.
You have three options for getting your report:
Georgia Department of Transportation – The Department of Transportation can provide a copy of your crash report for $5 or a certified copy of your report for $7. However, the downside is that you must pay by cashier’s check or money order.
Contact the Investigating Agency – If you know the police department that attended the scene of your accident, you can contact them for your crash report. Note that the time it takes for them to respond primarily depends on the police department in question.
MyAccident.Org – The easiest way to obtain a copy of your Georgia crash report is to use a service like MyAccident.org. This is the simplest option because the platform does all the legwork for you. Moreover, you have more payment methods to choose from, making it even more convenient.
Knowing how to read a Georgia accident report is the first step to pursuing your case. If you were involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, ensure you obtain a copy of your accident report to support your claim today.