If you are involved in an accident, calling the police is always a good idea. You should contact the police following any accident, even if it is just a small fender bender. The police fill out a report after an accident, and this report can be very useful in both criminal and civil cases.
In personal injury cases, it can help prove fault and cause of damage, both very important aspects of your claim. But what happens if you review your police report, and some of the information is incorrect?
Can You Change a Police Report?
Police are human too, and finding an error on your police report is definitely not unheard of. Police reports are often used in civil cases as key evidence, so having an accurate police report is very important.
Your police report can contain vital information such as contact information for each party, crash information, including potential causes, and witness statement information. In some cases, it can also include information on whether any citations were issued.
You can request that the police officer change, alter, or correct portions of the police report. Changing a police report, however, can be somewhat difficult. Each police department handles changing police reports slightly differently. The process can vary from state to state as well.
Keep in mind that you are under no obligation to correct a police report, but it can be helpful. If you can show that the police report is unreliable in court later, then you may be able to keep it out of evidence.
In some cases, however, you may not be able to keep it out, and you must explain any inconsistencies to a judge or jury. Having an accurate police report can not only help you in court, it can also help you get a fair settlement from an insurance company.
Altering my Police Report
The type of change you want to make can affect the process for changing the report. Usually, simple changes like the spelling of your name, a date correction, or changing an address can be an easy alteration.
You can call the police department or the individual officer, and they are usually willing to make these small changes. You can never alter a police report yourself; you must contact law enforcement so that they can make these changes on your behalf.
Changing something more substantive can be more of a challenge. You will need to lay out specific reasons why you think your police report should be changed. You can contact the police department yourself by phone or through a letter, or you can arrange for your attorney to make this connection for you.
If you choose to reach out to the police department, or a particular officer yourself, you may want to keep the following tips in mind:
- Police, just like other people, are sometimes not receptive to accusations of being wrong. Be as polite as possible when you point out a potential error.
- Try speaking to the individual police officer first. Going above their head to their supervisor can send the wrong message, and may not get you very far.
- Talk to the police officer as soon as you can after you notice a mistake. This could prevent the report from becoming final, which makes it easier to change.
What if the Police Officer Will Not Change my Report?
If you contact the police department, and they will not change the report, this can have a negative effect on your case. However, that does not mean that your case is destined to be unsuccessful.
You can try to keep the police report out of evidence by showing that it is inaccurate, or you can present evidence at your trial to counter what the police report shows. Both options can be effective.
To counteract a negative impact on your personal injury case, you may want to try submitting a statement to them with your version of the events or whatever else you would like changed. Then, this will at least be added to the file so you can show that you attempted to correct a mistake shortly after the accident.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
If you need help, contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney. He or she can speak to the police on your behalf or get you started with the accident report correction process. They will help to ensure that the information in your police report is accurate and best represents your recollection of the events surrounding your accident.