Incorrect Car Wreck Reports
The purpose of wreck reports.
Almost everyone believes that the main purpose for wreck reports is to determine fault. Actually these reports were initially created to gather information that could be used to develop accident prevention programs. But over time citizens and insurers have come to rely on them as the official report of what happened.
Investigating officers are not the final determiners of fault.
When a wreck happens on a public roadway in Georgia typically one of three agencies will investigate the wreck:
- The Georgia State Patrol;
- The local municipal police department; or
- The local sheriff’s department.
Many times the investigating officer has specialized training in wreck investigation. The officer’s job is generally to record the information called for on the Motor Vehicle Crash Report and issue citations for any traffic violations he concludes occurred.
While many times officers are correct in their assessment of what happened in a wreck, it is important to remember that the officer didn’t personally witness the wreck. He draws conclusions from the evidence he gathers – talking to witnesses and the parties and observing the physical evidence. Some officers may write in the remarks section of their report which driver they “fault” with the wreck, but the officer’s determination is not conclusive.
Two cases where we proved the investigating officers were wrong.
I’ve had several cases over the years where an officer has concluded in the wreck report that my client was at fault, and we have been able to prove otherwise. One such case involved a wreck in which our client’s wife was killed. There were no eyewitnesses. Based on his investigation the officer concluded that my client’s wife ran a stop sign and was the cause of the wreck.
Our client’s wife was very familiar with the intersection where the wreck happened, and we didn’t believe she ran the stop sign. After a lot of investigation, including the assistance of an accident reconstruction expert, we concluded that the investigating officer had not done a thorough investigation, and the physical evidence supported our position that the other driver was at fault. Armed with our work, I deposed the investigating officer, and at his deposition he finally had to admit that he had not done a thorough investigation, and he recanted his opinion from the wreck report that our client’s wife was at fault.
In a more recent case the investigating officer charged our client with DUI and concluded she caused the wreck. Our client was severely injured in the wreck. We were able to prove that the drugs in our client’s system, which the officer concluded were proof our client was DUI, were actually the pain medications administered to her in the ambulance and at the emergency room. We took the officer’s deposition, and he had to admit that our client was not DUI, and the other driver pulled out in front of our client.
What should I do if the wreck report is incorrect for my accident?
If you are “faulted” for a wreck that you know you did not cause or are ticketed for violating a traffic law that you did not violate, call me. I will be happy to set up a free consultation with you to see if I can help you. It may be that with some hard work and tenacity we can prove the officer’s conclusions are incorrect and that you have a right to recover for your injuries.
Ann-Margaret Perkins is a partner with Perkins Law Firm, L.L.P. practicing personal injury and social security disability, but her claim to fame is being mom to former Southeastern Guide Dogs breeder, Baxter.