Georgia State Patrol Hacked!
For many years Georgia State Patrol officers (GSP) have been inputting information for wreck investigations into laptops installed in their cruisers. That information is uploaded, and a report of the wreck is generated. Individuals, insurers, courts, and many others rely on the reports.
Reporting wrecks electronically is a great system until something goes wrong. On July 26, 2019 something did go wrong – the Georgia Department of Public Safety was the victim of a ransomware attack. The result of that attack is that the GSP can’t access data to create reports about wrecks that happened during a certain time period for which hackers locked files, and troopers are having to revert to completing reports the old-fashioned way – on paper.
This is particularly troublesome for the Villa Rica State Patrol Post 4, which covers Carroll and Douglas county. According to the 2018 GSP Annual Report Post 4 is the second busiest in the state doing crash investigations. Many of our clients’ wreck are investigated by Post 4 troopers. We have several for whom we cannot get wreck reports due to the hacking. We hope at some time we will be able to, but it’s not clear if we will.
This unfortunate attack on the GSP computers serves as an important reminder that we cannot rely solely on law enforcement’s investigation regarding wrecks. It is important for a person involved in a wreck to personally document everything you can. If the law enforcement report is not available and you don’t document things yourself, it may be impossible to prove whose fault the wreck was. So, what should you do to protect yourself?
- Call 911. Do this even if others have already called. In your call relay what happened. 911 records incoming calls. Your brief description of what happened will provide some record of the facts.
- Take pictures, or better yet, video. Document the location of all vehicles, all damage to vehicles, all marks left by vehicles on the road or off the road and damage done to anything else, like signs or buildings.
- Get witness names, addresses and phone numbers. Ask them to write their names, addresses and phone numbers down for you. You are certain to be shook up after a wreck and may make a mistake in taking down their information. If they write it down, it’s more apt to be right.
- Get all other drivers’ (even if they aren’t at fault) names and addresses and phone numbers. The law enforcement officer may give you this, but if he or she doesn’t give you a paper with it, get it yourself. It may be easiest to just take a picture of their license. (If you do this, make sure their residence address is the same as shown on their driver’s license).
- Get liability insurance information (insurance company name and policy number) on the other vehicle. It may be easiest to just take a picture of it.
- Make notes. As soon as you can, record details of your recollection of what happened leading up to, at the time of, and after the wreck.
While the hacking of the GSP is what prompted this blog, doing what is suggested here is important for another reason. There can be mistakes in wreck reports. Your documentation of information on the scene may be critical to showing that.