There are many important details in police reports that injury victims should pay attention to. If a police officer arrives at the scene of an accident, they will likely create a traffic collision report. Traffic collision reports are often rich with information. But, if you are unfamiliar with police incident reports, then you might miss important details. Here, we discuss some of the important details in police reports that you should look for after an accident.
Party Information Section
Typically, the first section in a police report includes important party information. This section not only identifies the driver and automobile insurance carrier, but also the vehicle registered owners. These identifying details are important in identifying who may be liable for your injuries or required to compensate you.
When reviewing the party information section of police reports, pay attention to the registered owner information. Sometimes, the registered owner may also be liable for your injuries for entrusting the vehicle to the driver. But other times, the registered owner may provide additional insurance coverage beyond what is identified in the police report. This is particularly true when the registered owner is an employer of the person who caused your accident. Therefore, you should pay attention to the registered owner to figure out whether you can make a claim against them. You should also consider whether there is additional insurance coverage.
Cause & Recommendations Section
Police officers interview witnesses and then often conclude with a cause and recommendation section. These sections identify the police officer’s opinion as to who caused the accident. The police officer typically includes a specific vehicle code statute that a driver violated. Then, the police officer provides recommendations to whether age driver should be cited or recommended for criminal prosecution. For example, if an intoxicated driver causes an accident, then a police officer might recommend the local District Attorney’s Office to prosecute the driver for charges regarding driving under the influence.
Personal injury victims should review both of these sections to understand what the investigating police officer believes occurred. The section also helps understand whether the at fault driver is liable under any criminal prosecution. If the at-fault driver is held criminally liable, then you may use this information to pursue punitive damages against the at fault party.
Photographs and Videos References
Pay particular attention to whether the police report mentions videos and photographs. Sometimes, police officers take photographs of the vehicles involved in the collision, the conditions of the road, or people involved in the accident. Sometimes, the police report only subtly mentions the existence of photographs or videos. But, this evidence can be very important in proving your personal injury case. Therefore, pay close attention to any reference of photographs or videos.
In California, the traffic collision report’s upper right-hand corner sometimes states whether any photographs were taken, and if so how many. Also, police officers sometimes conclude their reports by stating they photographed the incident. Additionally, police officers occasionally activate their body worn cameras when they arrive on the scene. Body worn cameras capture audio and video from the police officers perspective. When reviewing a traffic collision report, search for any mentioning of BWC, which stands for body worn camera.
Request Videos and Important Details in Police Reports Are Missing
Typically, if you request a traffic collision report then you will only receive the report itself. Police departments often do not produce videos, photographs, or other evidence without explicit requests. As such, if you notice any information that is not in the police report, then you should requested. However, police departments have different policies as to whether they will produce the evidence to you. Some police departments will comply with the request. While other police departments require court orders or subpoenas to produce the evidence.
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