Many people are confident that police reports and testimony are always accurate and complete. However, it is important to remember that police officers are human beings who can make mistakes, miss facts or witnesses, and sometimes even hold biases that will affect the reports they file. Do the parties in car accidents have recourse when a police accident report is inaccurate? Yes, indeed they do.
Amending or Correcting Police Reports
Some jurisdictions have a simple process for correcting or amending a police report. It can be as straightforward as filing a form or talking to the officer and reminding them about something at the scene they may have forgotten or providing a car accident witness statement that contradicts or corrects the police officer’s statements. However, it is important to note that often insurance companies will continue to hold to the original report.
Disputing the Report
When the party to a car accident believes the police accident report is wrong and they either cannot amend it or they can do so but the opposing insurance carrier refuses to recognize it, the only alternative may be to consult a car accident attorney and file a lawsuit so the courts can decide.
Once the plaintiff files a lawsuit, there may be several possible results:
- The other party and their representatives may consider negotiating for a more appropriate settlement
- Both parties may agree to let a mediator provide a judgment on the case, although such a judgment is not binding
- Both parties may agree to hire an arbitrator to provide a judgment that is binding
- The case may go to court where a judge and/or jury will decide the merits of the police accident report and the case
It is vital to have all the corroborating information available for each of these actions, including at least one car accident witness statement whenever possible.
Help from an Attorney
When there are contradictory opinions about a car accident and additional steps such as those outlined above are required, it can be vital to have an experienced car accident attorney to represent your interests and make sure your case is presented effectively. Often they will be able to find and present that evidence so effectively as to sway insurance companies, mediators, and judges to change the direction of a case in your favor.