If a person is injured in a car accident or there is greater than $1,000 in property damage, you are legally required to call the police to the accident scene. Why? An officer will arrive, interview drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses, and will draw up their findings in an official document called a police report.
Police reports typically aren’t admissible in court, but they are usually examined by all parties in a personal injury claim. That means that not only will you and your attorney know what’s in the report, but so will the other driver, his or her attorney, and various insurance adjusters.
Because police reports provide such important information to so many people, it can be frustrating if your police report contains an error. There are certain circumstances in which you may be able to change your police report to correct an error.
Factual Errors vs. Disputed Facts
There are two types of errors that may be present in a police report: factual errors and disputed facts. It’s important to know which kind of error you have on your hands because that will determine whether or not you’re likely to get it changed.
A factual error is a mistake in documenting a verifiable fact. These are typically minor errors that may have surprisingly large consequences. For example, if an eyewitness’s phone number is misprinted on the police report, then your attorney may have difficulty contacting them to take their statement regarding the accident.
Factual errors occur because police officers are humans who make mistakes just like everyone else. Police departments know factual errors are unavoidable and have set up procedures to correct them. Typically, you can contact the police officer in question and submit evidence to them that proves there’s a factual error. Once that evidence is received, the police officer will either revise the error in the actual report or will leave the error but attach an addendum to explain the error.
A disputed fact, on the other hand, is a fact not agreed upon by the parties involved in the car accident because there is evidence on both sides. Disputed facts are typically much more difficult to get changed because they cannot be proven either way.
For example, let’s say the police report lists you at fault because an eyewitness claims that you ran a red light. On the other hand, you’re certain that you still had a green light when you crossed through the intersection. That’s a disputed fact. There’s no camera evidence or written documentation that proves that either one of you is undeniably correct. Because you cannot submit concrete proof, police departments will typically refuse to change the police report simply to fit your point of view.
How Will an Error in My Police Report Affect My Case?
It depends. Because factual errors are fairly routine and easy to fix, it shouldn’t affect your claim. However, a disputed fact may have greater consequences. For example, if the police report puts you at fault, you may find it difficult to convince the insurance company otherwise.
That’s one way an Indiana car accident attorney can help. They can take a look at your case and make a convincing argument on your behalf, regardless of what the police report says. The police report is important, but it’s only one piece in your case. A good attorney can tell your side of the story regardless of whether or not you can get the police report amended.
Help from an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and you aren’t sure how to proceed, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation.