Here's how the process works and how a Tampa car accident lawyer can help
If you have been involved in a serious car accident in Florida, the police officer who responded to your crash likely created an accident report. Your Florida accident report – which is officially called a Florida Traffic Crash Report – can be very important evidence in support of your injury claim or lawsuit.
Insurance adjusters and insurance companies often carefully review these reports when deciding on compensation for car accident injury victims. And if the investigating police officer wrote that you were somehow at fault, an insurance company might reduce your insurance settlement or deny your accident claim.
So what should you do if your accident report is wrong? What if there's a mistake in your report? What if the description of your crash doesn't match what actually happened? Can your report be changed? And what steps can you take? Below, you can learn more about the legal options available to you.
Bias against injury victims
First, it's important to understand some of the most common errors in car accident reports filled out by police. According to Streetsblog, one recent study found that police officers often include language in their accident reports and press releases that place the blame on injury victims (especially pedestrians and cyclists) rather than the driver who caused the collision,
"Ideally, we want police to ask themselves: what information needs to get out immediately from a public safety standpoint, and what information should wait?" said Tara Goddard, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University and co-author of the recent study published by Science Direct.
Common accident report errors
Accident report errors can be divided into several different categories, including the following:
- Factual errors – Such errors may include the wrong date or time of the accident and the incorrect birthdate of one of the drivers involved in the crash. Other times, factual errors can be more substantial, such as the location of the accident or other critical details. Either way, these errors should be corrected.
- Transcription errors – The police officer who investigated your crash might have accidentally written down the wrong information in the official accident report. Often, such mistakes occur because the officer misread their notes or misheard what you or someone else said. For example, you might have told the officer you thought the other driver didn't slow down before the crash and was going 50 mph. Instead, the officer might have written down that you thought the other driver slowed down and was going 30 mph. That's a big difference, and that should be corrected.
- Omission of facts – Sometimes, the investigating police officer doesn't write down certain important facts. For example, many accident reports include a section for injuries sustained by anyone involved in the crash. Therefore, if you have neck pain or suffered another type of serious injury, such information should be included in the official accident report.
- Subjective errors – Subjective opinions about what happened often occur regarding accident reports. You might think the other driver was clearly at fault and driving aggressively. However, the investigating police officer might write something different based on statements from the other driver or witnesses.
Can your Florida accident report be changed?
In many cases, your official accident report can be amended. This is why it's critical that you obtain a copy of your accident report as soon as possible to review it carefully. Our law firm can do this for you and review your report to find any inaccuracies.
Correcting factual errors and transcription errors should be relatively easy. The best way to correct these errors is to notify the investigating police officer about such mistakes and ask that they be corrected.
Correcting errors of omission can sometimes be more difficult, especially if the investigating police officer does not believe such information is relevant or important. But it's still worth asking for the information to be included in your report.
Amending your accident report to address subjective errors about what happened can be much more challenging. The investigating police officer might not be willing to make those types of changes and may want to leave the report unchanged. But perhaps the investigating officer might be willing to include a statement from you describing your crash.
When to call a car accident attorney
If you believe your official accident report contains mistakes or isn't an accurate assessment of what occurred, your attorney can work with you and the police to set things straight. An experienced lawyer knows how to deal with the police and can advocate for your best interests.
The Tampa car accident attorneys at Armando Personal Injury Law know how to read and analyze accident reports. We also have extensive experience investigating accidents and finding evidence that shows our clients were the victims of serious car accidents and deserve compensation for their losses.
Set the record straight. Get a law firm focused on fighting for your rights. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Tampa car accident lawyer you can count on in a crisis. Our office is located on East 5th Avenue in Tampa, and we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay us if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for you.