In most North Carolina Car Accidents, law enforcement is contacted and they make a report of your traffic incident. When police respond to the scene of an accident, they will begin to gather information from drivers and witnesses at the crash scene. The information will then be added to an accident report.
If you have never seen one of these reports, they can be a bit hard to understand. If you can get your hands on an accident report “key,” you will better understand the information that the reporting officer has included.
Understanding the Report
The first thing you should look for is the names of all drivers involved in the accident. You may not be able to ascertain if others’ names were spelled correctly, but you can certainly check the accuracy of your own. The next thing you will want to look for is whether or not the police officer was accurate in his or her description of who was driving which vehicle. Also, if you look at the bottom of the second page of the report, you will see a box where the reporting officer will list if any citations were issued.
Was Anyone Ticketed?
Check closely to see if any parties received a ticket or citation. Also, look at boxes 14, 15 and 16 on the right hand side of page 1 to see if they are filled with numbers. Even if you don’t know what the numbers mean, anything filled out in these boxes will let you know if the driver listed in the first position (Driver 1) was found to have done anything that contributed to the accident. If boxes 17, 18 and 19 are filled, that means that the officer found the second driver contributed to the accident. If there are more than 2 vehicles involved, the same format for reading the contributing factors will also apply to drivers listed on additional pages. You will need to use the accident key to determine what the numbers in the box(s) mean.
Look for Insurance Company Information
Take a look at the bottom of page one. There will be information about the people that own the vehicles, the names of their insurance company(s) and their policy number(s). Most of the times you can assume that the information is accurate, however please note that in some cases the insurance information may not be up to date and you may need additional research to find the accurate insurance information.
Keep in mind when reading the report that the opinions and findings of the police officer do not determine “fault”. It is the reporting officer’s job to gather information about the accident. Fault is a matter that may be determined by the insurance companies and in some cases, the Court. Additionally sometimes it may be possible to correct or amend an accident report depending on the information that needs to be corrected or added.
If you have been involved in such an injury accident in Charlotte or elsewhere, reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys. If you do not have your accident report, we will help you obtain it free of charge. We will also help you decipher your report if you are having trouble understanding it. Accident reports and injuries are confusing. Please give us a call for a free consultation. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your potential options.