As car accident lawyers in Atlanta, we get numerous callers telling us that the investigating police officer made out the report incorrectly. Everything from the color of the car being wrong, to vehicles going the opposite direction, to leaving out eyewitness information. Police officers who investigate car accidents in Atlanta are human and it happens.
The question is, what can you do about it if the police officer made out the report wrong or ticketed the wrong person? The short answer is you have an uphill battle, but you have to try.
The Other Guy Should Have Received the Ticket, It Wasn’t My Fault!
This one we get all the time. As a general rule the first person to talk with the officer whose story makes sense will get the benefit of doubt. We have seen countless car accident collisions where the officer did not interview the badly wounded client because they were already in the ambulance and as a result, the cop ticketed our client. IF YOU GET THE TRAFFIC TICKET, YOU HAVE A BIG PROBLEM. If you sustain a serious injury in a crash and get the ticket, you have to understand that the other guy’s insurance company is going to bow up and refuse to accept any responsibility, which is normal. They feel they have the police on their side and it will take heavy litigation with solid evidence to turn things around. A solid eyewitness is one of the few pieces of evidence that can turn around the liability analysis in a car accident case.
Both Drivers Got a Ticket or Neither Got a Ticket
The odds are slightly better if no one got a ticket or both drivers got a ticket. Officers will sometimes be unable to decide which party is at fault. Classic examples include:
1) Red Light Green Light Swearing Contest. Two vehicles at a four way light and two vehicles collide, each claiming the light. These cases are deadlocked unless there is an eyewitness outside of one of the vehicle or one of the drivers screws up while testifying in deposition about the car accident.
2) Left turn, Failure to Yield Cases: The classic case is the defendant driver waiting till the light turns yellow and then turning and claiming that the other vehicle entered the intersection on red. Although the odds are good on beating the turning vehicle on failure to yield, eyewitnesses and lack of headlight evidence in a nighttime collision will complicate things.
We are working on a case now where our client was broken down on the side of I-285 when another driver struck his car, leaving him with a broken pelvis and over $400,000 in surgical bills. The driver who hit him claimed to have been struck by a John Doe vehicle in the rear which caused their airbags to deploy, causing them to crash. Their insurance company refused to pay out their limits. What the officer and the insurance company did not bother to look into is the fact that airbags do not deploy on a rear end only impact. With hard evidence from the car’s computer, we will be able to show that the airbags did not deploy until impact with our clients car, thereby proving the other driver to be a liar.
The Georgia Accident Report is Wrong, Can I Get it Changed?
Sometimes, you can get the report amended, but it is rare. If you did not have a chance to speak to the officer, they may issue a supplemental report. Regardless of whether they issue and amended report, you want to at least try. Why? Because if the report contains an admissible fact that hurts your case, you will be asked in deposition one day by the insurance company lawyer why you did nothing about it and if you did nothing, it can hurt your credibility. It goes a little something like this:
Lawyers: You knew the report was wrong didn’t you?
Lawyer: And yet two years have gone by and you did not lift a finger to get that Georgia car accident report modified did you?
The implication is that you came up with your story of the crash later.
The bottom line is 1) get the Atlanta car accident report soon after the crash, 2) review the car accident report for inaccuracies, 3) call the officer at the station and request that a correction or supplemental report be issued.