In the days immediately following an auto accident, an incident report is usually available from the law enforcement agency that investigated the crash. These reports contain loads of important information about the collision, including the investigating officers belief of how the accident occurred, as well as the names and insurance information for the drivers and passengers in each vehicle.
These reports are usually available directly from the investigating law enforcement agency within a few days of the accident occurring. A few phone calls or letter requesting the incident report is usually all that is required to obtain the report, because under Georgia law it is a public record available to any member of the public.
A great online resource for obtaining incident reports throughout Georgia and many other states is www.buycrash.com. This is one of several websites that locate incident reports for the public and will make them available to you online for a small fee of a few dollars. This site is very user friendly and one we regularly use at our office.
What if the information in the incident report is incorrect?
One problem clients sometimes encounter after an accident is an error in the incident report. This could be an error about the name of a passenger, the type of vehicle, or even the description of how the accident happened. This can be an enormous problem when filing a claim for damages, especially early in a case when the at-fault driver’s insurance company has little more to go by when evaluating liability for the claim other that the officer’s report. Therefore it is best to get errors corrected as quickly as possible.
Because victims are often taken to the hospital immediately after the wreck, the investigating officer my be drafting a report with limited information. Sometimes the victims and at-fault drivers may not clearly remember what happened, or may have conflicting versions of events.
If you believe your incident report contains an error, immediately contact the investigating officer who drafted the report. The officer’s name and badge number is located on the report, usually at the end of the standard Georgia incident report. If you contact the officer to request a correction, or even to provide additional information, the officer can draft corrected report, or supplemental report that also becomes part of the record.
Do incident reports matter at trial?
Many clients believe that they could go to trial and simply read the incident report to the jury and establish all the facts necessary in their case. This is a huge misconception. As a general rule, the incident report is not admissible at trial in Georgia. Even if the investigating officer appears at trial, he or she cannot simply read the report into the record. However, they can use the report to refresh their memory of events, and in certain circumstances answer questions about information in the report. This most often occurs when the officer is testifying at trial with information that is different than what he or she placed in the incident report. Attorneys are allowed to cross-examine the officer and “impeach” them with information in the report to point out the inconsistency to the jury. But the reports are never read in their entirety in front of the jury.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Georgia accident attorneys at Jarrett & Price for a free consultation and an attorney at our firm WILL return your call. Our personal injury attorneys represent clients in southeast Georgia at our Savannah, Georgia, office location, as well as clients in northeast Georgia at our offices in Clarkesville, Georgia and Cleveland, Georgia.