Accident Reports Were Not Designed for Laypeople to Understand
The police officers who draft accident reports are trained to use arcane symbols, coded words and numbers to convey a multitude of information in just a couple pages. These reports are designed to provide a data record in a standard format, not to be an easy-to-read diagram for a layperson.
Accident Reports Often Contain Errors
Moreover, police officers are human and can and do make mistakes. Uncorrected mistakes can become part of the permanent record. If you see a mistake in the accident report, you should try to get it corrected as soon as possible. This can be a real hassle. Officers are very busy and memories fade over time. An officer writes so many of these reports, he may not remember your accident, or he or she may confuse your accident with a different wreck. It is very possible that a mistake made on a report can become a "fact" if the officer does not correct the document while it is fresh in his mind. Insurance adjusters generally follow what they read on the accident report. If it is wrong, you could be denied compensation for not only your property damage, but also your personal injury.
Download a Copy of the Accident Report Key or "Overlay"
In order to understand whether mistakes have been made, you must understand the report itself. Reading and interpreting the document requires a "key" or "overlay" that is rarely provided by the police department. This key or overlay provides a description as to the meanings corresponding to the symbols and numbers in the report.
You may download a copy of the overlay for free below.
If you have a question about the report, or you think it is inaccurate, you should act quickly. Time is of the essence.