How to Read an Accident Report
South Carolina law requires anyone involved in a car accident to alert the police if the collision results in injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,000. When the officer arrives at the scene, they will fill out an accident report. The finished report will contain details about the crash as well as the officer’s initial assessment of who was liable. Requesting a copy of this accident report from the South Carolina DMV is a vital step in filing an injury claim.
However, many people feel confused when attempting to decipher the information in the report. Knowing how to read it is crucial, as you might need to correct any mistakes or omissions to protect your case. Here is a section-by-section breakdown of how to read a South Carolina accident report.
The upper left-hand corner of page one will provide the incident number. This number will help other officials identify your case.
Section A on the first page of the report contains location information. Review this section to ensure that it correctly identifies street names, lanes, intersections, and travel directions.
Section B contains personal information for everyone involved in the accident, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and witnesses. It will also identify the vehicle owner if this person was not present during the collision. For each person, this section will list:
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance company
- Telephone number
Section B also lists information about each vehicle involved, such as make, model, color, and license plate details.
Furthermore, the officer will note whether they believe an individual was violating any traffic laws in the lead-up to the accident.
Section C is where the officer describes what occurred in the accident. It also contains a space to draw a diagram of the crash.
Police Officer Information
Section D is at the bottom of page one, where the police officer will provide their own identifying information, including badge number and rank.
Section E is the top part of page two of the police report. This section is where the officer lists the condition of those involved in the collision. They will indicate whether:
- The occupants of the vehicle were using seatbelts
- Any airbags deployed
- Anyone was ejected from the vehicle
- An injured person received emergency treatment or ambulance assistance
- Anyone lost their life in the crash
In many cases, however, people become aware of injuries they have suffered only after leaving the accident scene. The adrenaline in your body may mask any pain you might otherwise feel. As a result, you should always seek medical treatment after involvement in any accident. Doing so can help your potential for recovery and your insurance claim.
Sequence of Events
Section F is where the officer will use their observations and witness reports to outline the apparent timeline of the accident. You should pay close attention to this section when reviewing the report. If you remember the sequence differently from how the officer has described it, alert your attorney immediately. They can seek to amend the record so it does not harm your claim.
Alcohol or Drugs
Section G allows the officer to indicate whether the crash involved the use of drugs or alcohol. Here they will list the results of any sobriety tests they administered.
Section H is at the bottom of page 2. In this section, the officer will list any factors they believe may have contributed to the crash. This area contains fields for various forms of negligence, including:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Fatigued driver
- Driving too fast in adverse weather
They may also indicate that the road contained debris or other obstructions. Finally, the officer will note whether any of the vehicles had defects.
Read section H carefully. If you disagree with anything it contains, contact your attorney immediately.
Speak with an Experienced Georgetown Car Accident Attorney
While the accident report is the official record of the collision, you should not assume that the information it contains will be fully accurate. These reports are subject to human error, and new facts may emerge later. Ensuring that the report is correct can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.
The seasoned South Carolina car accident attorneys of Evans Moore, LLC will obtain a copy of the report and review its accuracy with you. We will also conduct our own investigation of the crash, determine who is liable for your losses, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us now at (843) 995-5000 or contact us online for a free consultation.