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1)  What is a police report?

 

A police report is an instrument created by investigating law enforcement to document an incident, arrest, or other crime. 

 

For car wrecks, it provides a uniform way for all officers to document the collision and collect important information.  

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2)  How are car wreck reports organized in Georgia?

 

A car wreck report can be described as being organized in divided in five general sections:

 

  • Basic Collision Information (date, time, location, and report number);

  • Driver & Vehicle Information (name, address, insurance information, vehicle owner, make, model, & year);

  • Specific Collision Information (contributing factors, speed limit, damage to vehicle, citation information);

  • Investigative Findings (brief narrative, diagram for the collision, etc.)

  • Individual Information (vehicle occupants, witnesses, injuries reported, etc.)

 

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3)  Where can I get a copy of a wreck report?

 

A copy of the police report can be obtained from the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene and conducted an investigation. 

 

Or, you can go to buycrash.com and purchase a copy if the law enforcement agency has uploaded a copy.  This is often the simpler and quicker way to obtain a wreck report.

 

Sometimes, several law enforcement agencies will respond to a scene of a crash.  Usually, only one of these agencies spearheads the investigation and completes the report.  The other agency officers simply provide support.  In rare occasions, both agencies will complete wreck reports.

 

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4)  How long until my wreck report is available?

 

An investigating officer will usually take between 3-5 days to complete a draft of the wreck report, have it reviewed, make corrections, and have a finalized copy available.

 

Ofcourse, sometimes it can take longer, especially in large, metro areas where officers tend to stay more busy.

 

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5)  Where is the wreck report number?

 

In Georgia, the wreck report number is usually located in the top left-hand corner of the first page of the wreck report.

 

Often called the “agency case number,” the wreck report number is specific to each law enforcement agency.

 

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6)  How do I know who towed my vehicle?

 

If your vehicle was towed and you can’t remember the name of the towing company, you can identify the towing company on the wreck report.

 

The towing company is usually identified at the bottom of the driver information column, as indicated below (personally identifiable information redacted for privacy):

Police Report Towing.png

7)  Where do I find insurance information on a wreck report?

 

Car insurance information can be found immediately below the driver information on the police report.  This usually includes the name of the insurance company as well as the policy number (personally identifiable information redacted for privacy):

Police Report Insurance.png

8)  How do I correct an error on a wreck report?

 

A qualified error on a wreck report can usually be documented by contacting the law enforcement agency, providing evidence of the error, and requesting a supplemental or amended report. 

 

The investigating officer can choose to amend or supplement the report based on the inaccuracy, though each agency has their own process.  .

 

A qualified error usually pertains to an obvious inaccuracy of objective fact, such as incorrect road information (i.e. street name) or identities of drivers (i.e. misspelled names). 

 

Just because you dispute the factual findings (i.e. misquoted statement) and conclusions of the report (i.e. findings of fault) does not mean there is a correctable error.

 

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9)  Are witnesses identified on a wreck report?

 

If the investigating officer relied on the observations of a witness, usually the officer will identify the witness on the wreck report.

 

This is usually done near the end of the wreck, after the narrative and diagram:

Witness information is often redacted in the final police report, though.  

 

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10)  How do I know if the crash investigation was video or audio recorded?

 

If a crash investigation was video or audio recorded, the investigating officer usually makes a notation in the narrative of the collision. 

Police Report Narrative.png

However, do not rely on these notations.  It’s important to send an open record request asking for all records of the investigation. 

 

Sometimes, you’ll receive the audio and video recordings that were identified on the wreck report.

 

Also, if the investigation is still open or if there are criminal charges pending, the law enforcement agency is not allowed to release these records until the conclusion of the investigation or criminal charges. 

 

So, it can be helpful to send a follow-up open record request months after the collision, when the file has been closed.

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11)  What do all of the random numbers mean on a wreck report?

 

The random numbers on a wreck report correspond to previously defined words and descriptions common to motor vehicle collisions and investigations.

 

Georgia has created a Motor Vehicle Crash Report Overlay to bring uniformity to collision investigation and reporting.  The overlay also assists the officer by saving time for data input on the collision.  Finally, it allows more information to fit on the limited space of the wreck report.

 

The Motor Vehicle Crash Report Overlay is not usually included with the police report.  So, you’ll have to specifically request for one, or you can obtain one for free from the Department of Transportation’s website.

 

As an example, let’s look at some of the wreck report numbers below and compare them to the overlay:

Police Report Numbers.png

Alco Test: 2 (means "no")

Police Report Overlay Alcohol.png

First Harmful Event:  11 (means "Motor Vehicle in Motion")

Police Report Overlay Contributing Facto

Operator Contributing Factors: 4 (means "Failed to Yield")

Police Report Overlay Contributing Facto

12)  What is a contributing factor?

 

A contributing factor is a catch-all that allows the investigating officer to identify other factors that may have participated in causing the collision.

 

Investigating officers can identify violations and issue traffic citations for a motor vehicle collision.  But, these traffic citations do not tell the whole story that may be helpful for the traffic court. 

 

Contributing factors allow the officer to note any exacerbating – or mitigating – circumstances that participated in the collision. 

 

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13)  How do I know if the other driver was cited for the collision?

 

If the other driver was cited for violation a traffic law, it will be noted on the police report, as indicated below.  

Police Report Citation and Ticket Inform

The citation number is an internal reference number used by the law enforcement agency.

 

The specific traffic violation is identified so you know precisely what rule of the road they are accused of violating.

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14)  Is a police report admissible at trial?

 

A police report is not normally admissible at trial because it contains hearsay and other information – this information can usually be offered and admitted through the actual testimony of the investigating officer.

 

However, your attorney may be successful in having parts of the police report admitted in to evidence or used as demonstrative evidence, such as the diagram.

 

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