Accident reports in the United States can generally be searched online by state. For example, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) permits the public to access traffic collision data with the intent of making it easier to find your own records.
The ODPS also has a web portal to view crash reports, state patrol reports, and crash statistics. If you are wondering about how to look up an accident report or cannot find your report online, you might need to go to the police station to see your accident report.
If Your Accident Report Is Not Yet Online, Contact the Police
If you cannot find your accident report through the ODPS crash report web portals, you might need to get in touch with the officer or police department that filed the report to check on its status.
It may be a good idea to record the accident report number so that you can reference your accident when you call the police station. If you did not receive this number or do not have access to it, there is other key information you can provide the station to look up your accident, such as:
- Date of the accident
- Time of day
- Officer name
- Names of individuals involved
You may want to visit the precinct and try to view or photocopy the report yourself. It may take time for the state government to upload accident reports to their website, and with a personal injury claim, there is no time to waste.
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Correct Information on the Accident Report If Necessary
After an auto collision, insurance companies closely inspect the accident report. It is wise and prudent to ensure that your accident report contains:
- All vehicles involved in the accident
- A diagram or depiction showing where vehicle damage occurred
- Facts relevant to your story, including injury and passenger information
- Extenuating or circumstantial facts, such as anything you noticed before the accident that may have been out of place
- No inaccuracies (better to say “I don’t know” than risk saying something false)
Catching any potential errors on an accident report may save you a headache, hassle, and financial risk later. If you noticed an error in your accident report, there may still be time to take remedial steps to correct it. The officer who wrote the report has discretionary authority on whether to attach your addendum, which is important to add early in the process.
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Possible Errors in an Accident Report May Affect Your Case
At times, a police officer may miswrite something on the accident report. Typographical errors – such as misspellings of a name, license or insurance number, or similar pertinent facts – do not have a significant effect on the case.
You Can Request an Addendum
Informational exclusions or miscommunications are serious issues that often require an addendum to the report. The reporting officer must allow your addendum, so keep this in mind as you contact the police precinct to attempt to amend your accident report.
For example, if you mentioned being injured or in pain to the police officer and it was not listed in the report, you may want to request an addendum to create a paper trail to verify your claims later in court.
Ultimately, what you may see as an error on the accident report is more often the result of an adversarial party supplying converse information to the police. This is a primary arena where attorneys help clients with personal injury claims. Establishing your credibility over disagreeing parties from the standpoint of an arbiter, judge, or jury is essential to a lawyer’s duties to their client.
Read Your Accident Report and Check All Facts
Accident reports typically use a lot of abbreviations or short-hand language to save first responders’ time in potentially urgent situations. This urgency may also lead to handwriting illegibility once you see your accident report.
Highlight any quantitative information on the report and keep in mind that “PDO” stands for “Property Damage Only,” implying that no injuries were sustained in the crash. It can complicate any claim for personal injury damages from the collision if the accident report indicates that there were no injuries.
People who find that their accident report materially disagrees with their side of the story may want to get legal representation to take appropriate actions.
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Why an Accident Report Matters in Your Personal Injury Claim
After a serious traffic collision, the accident report will serve as a standardized method of data communication to concerned parties. These parties include insurance companies, actuaries, and legal teams. Insurance agents scrutinize accident reports.
Accident reports help tell your side of the story to the police. Discrepancies in an accident report do not always damage a person’s credibility, but action must be taken to ensure that an accident report error can be successfully amended. Because police work can be difficult to correct, many people choose to hire a lawyer to act on their behalf.
Juries and courts are also preferential to police testimony, and they have traditionally viewed accident reports as a method of providing an unbiased record of events. An officer may or may not be present during the actual trial. The accident report will factor in, regardless.
Police Officers Determine Fault in Accident Reports
Aside from recording objective information about the crash, police officers also give their opinions on what caused the accident and who bears the fault. They may determine that fault is shared, noting how each driver supposedly contributed to the accident.
Their determinations are not the final say on fault, but they can greatly influence the outcome of a claim or lawsuit.
How Insurers Use Accident Reports
When you file a car accident claim, insurance adjusters will use various information, including the police report, to determine fault.
They will also take statements from each party. If one of these statements conflicts with the accident report, they could try to undervalue or outright deny your claim.
How a Lawyer from Our Firm Can Help When This Happens
If an insurer undervalues or denies your claim, our legal team can help. We can conduct an independent investigation to counter an insurance adjuster’s determination of fault.
We may be able to provide evidence, such as an accident report addendum, to assert that you were not at fault for the accident.
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Related: How Long Do I Have To File A Car Accident Lawsuit In Ohio?
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Help from One of Our Lawyers is Invaluable
You are not alone if you notice that not all of the information on the police report is accurate. It can be difficult to prove the need for corrections on your own. That is where a lawyer from our firm comes in. We can make sure your accident report reflects exactly what occurred in the accident and that important details are included.
We can collect necessary evidence and file your claim and/or lawsuit on your behalf, as well. We want to bring you justice and fair compensation to help you move forward from this accident more comfortably.
We Can Calculate Your Damages
Along with investigating and gathering evidence for your case, our team can also calculate your losses accurately. This may involve consulting your doctors and other medical experts to document your injuries. If you suffer permanent disabilities, we can also estimate the cost of your future medical care.
To calculate lost wages, we can gather your wage statements. We may also consult economic experts to help you seek awards for reduced earning capacity.
We Can Negotiate a Fair Settlement
After calculating your damages, we can go to bat for you during settlement negotiations. We can argue for every penny you deserve. We can also assess any offer to ensure you do not accept one that would not fairly compensate you. You do not want to risk further financial losses down the road.
We Can Represent You in a Trial
If we cannot secure a fair settlement through negotiations, we can take your case to trial. We can argue for fair compensation, presenting our evidence to a judge or jury. We may be able to secure a court-awarded offer.
We also handle all of the necessary paperwork involved in filing your lawsuit. You won’t have to worry about making a clerical error that could cost you.
We Can Keep You Updated About Your Case
Throughout the legal process, we want to keep you updated. You deserve to feel comfortable every step of the way. We can make ourselves available to answer your questions as they arise.
We Can Work on Your Case While You Focus on Your Recovery
After suffering injuries in a car accident, you deserve to focus on your health. Bringing legal action against another party can be overwhelming. You do not have to go through this process alone, though. You have a right to legal representation whether you are filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Related: What if the Other Driver in a Car Accident Denies Liability?
Seek Legal Damages Within the Statute of Limitations
After injury claimants look up an accident report, they may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, they are generally limited to two years to start a lawsuit. This 24-month window begins from the date of the accident, according to Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10.
Two years can seem like a long time, but it is best to get started on a case as soon as possible. A lawyer from our firm has plenty of work to do to make a strong case. If a claimant does not file within the statute of limitations, the law holds that they forfeit their right to seek any damages.
Furthermore, roadway evidence may still be present and photographable to verify your case.
Related: Do I Need to File a Lawsuit to Recover Damages from a Car Accident in Ohio?
Call Bressman Law Today for Legal Help
If you still have concerns about your accident report, speak with a representative at our law firm. David Bressman and his team represent people in Ohio who were injured in an auto collision. We are ready to work on your case right away. If you need to challenge what is written on a police report, we can help. We want to be your legal advocate and fight for the best possible outcome for you.
Call us today at (877) 538-1116 for your free consultation. A dedicated team member will discuss your case with you, inform you of your options, and answer any questions you may have.
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