Can an Accident Report Be Changed?
The information that you provide to the police in the immediate aftermath of an accident might be clouded by the confusion and emotions that often accompany a car crash. When you later review a police report about the accident, your memory may well be different from the description in that report. Certain information might be subject to being changed, but ultimately that report will be a persuasive statement of how the accident occurred and which party caused it.
The car accident lawyers at Manhattan’s Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent individuals that have suffered property losses and injuries in car accidents. We counsel our clients on how to make an initial accident report, and to request changes when those reports do not accurately reflect which party caused the accident.
Simple Changes in Accident Reports: Mistakes of Fact
The police investigator that prepares an accident report might make simple mistakes of fact, for example, about the name of the street or the time of day when the car accident happened. In both New York and New Jersey, you are obligated to file an accident report with the police within ten days after the crash. An investigator might then require several days or weeks to complete an official report of the accident. You should get a copy of that report and review it for factual errors as soon as you possibly can. If you see a mistake, contact the officer who prepared the report and give him or her evidence to verify the necessary corrections. That officer should then issue a corrected report.
Complex Changes in Accident Reports: Factual Disputes
Your version of the events that preceded a car crash may well differ from the other driver’s version. You might, for example, report that the other driver ran a red light, was speeding, or turned in front of you at an intersection. The other driver might claim that the light was green, that he or she was driving below the speed limit, or that he or she had the right of way to make the turn that led to an accident. The police investigator will weigh both parties’ versions of events in conjunction with other evidence and will include some version of those events in a report.
Different police departments have different mechanisms to object to factual disputes on accident reports. You will have a better chance of succeeding with a request to change a report if you prepared and retained your own detailed description of the accident as soon as possible after the accident happened. In all auto accidents, you should collect:
- Contact and insurance information for all other drivers who were involved in the crash;
- Contact information for any witnesses who were at the scene;
- Notes with your best recollection of traffic and weather conditions;
- Photographs of all vehicles and the roads or intersections where the accident occurred.
In addition, you should keep all medical invoices for treatment you received for injuries, estimates, and bills from auto mechanics, and detailed notes of conversations that you had with police and insurance investigators.
Accident Reports, Damages, and Insurance Claims
Your ability to recover compensation for your property losses and injuries after a car accident may depend, in large part, on the completeness and accuracy of the police report that summarizes the accident. Notwithstanding the challenges that you might face in requesting changes to an accident report, you should not accept anything less than a report that best reflects your memory of how the accident happened. If you have any concerns about a car accident report and you are unable or unwilling to get the investigator to change it, contact an experienced car accident attorney for assistance in making any necessary changes.
Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman for Legal Representation
New York and New Jersey are both “no-fault” car insurance states, which means that your car insurance company will reimburse you for your losses and injuries following a car accident in either state regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident. This does not mean, however, that you can disregard police reports that contain errors about which party bears liability in an auto accident. Even with no-fault insurance, you might have a right to file a lawsuit for damages against a negligent driver that caused a car crash.
The car accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent car accident victims in Rockland or Bergen Counties and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey. Please call us if you believe an accident report should be changed and for assistance in recovering the full amount of damages you are entitled to receive for your car accident losses and injuries.