As a Dallas/Fort Worth car accident lawyer, I get many questions about what to do if the police report is wrong. A police report may be incorrect on many different issues such as the names of the drivers, location of the accident, who was driving and even the direction of travel for each vehicle.
For the most part, police will not investigate an accident and prepare a report unless the accident results in serious personal injury or wrongful death. But, what if the police do investigate your car accident and get something wrong in the report?
If the police do come to the scene, they will first identify the drivers of the cars.
When the police arrive at the scene, they will first separate the drivers and individually interviewed by the officers. If there are any witnesses to the accident, they will also be interviewed by the officers.
Once the officer feels as though they have obtained all necessary information, they will give each driver a slip of paper which has the accident report number. For example, this document will contain information about how to obtain the police report for your accident. Then the officer will probably tell you that the report will be ready in about 7-10 days. Many times, however, the report is ready even sooner.
What if the report is wrong?
You then wonder what, if anything, can you do to get the error corrected. That all depends on the type of mistake that is in the report.
If it is merely a clerical error, such as a misspelled name or erroneous date of birth, you can probably rest assured that these types of errors can be easily explained and will not impact your case. Likewise, it would not be necessary to contact the officer to get a corrected report.
What if the police report has a more important error?
There is a procedure where the officer can make an amended or supplemental report. Unfortunately, it is not very easy to get a police officer to change a report. For instance, if your accident was at an intersection and the officer notes that you ran the red light, you are not going to convince the officer to amend the report just because you state that you had a green light.
On the other hand, if the report listed you as driving the wrong car, then the officer can most likely be convinced to fix this error.
Clerical v. Factual Changes
In other words, the investigating officer is unlikely to amend a report merely because you disagree with the conclusion. You would have to show that the error is objectively obvious. For instance, clerical errors are more likely to be corrected. However, factual errors about how the accident happened may be more difficult to get changed.
Naturally, each party would want the police report to favor their version of the accident. But this would not be a sufficient reason for an officer to file a new report. You would have to show the officer that the error is more fundamental rather than a mere difference of opinion.