Car accidents that result in injury in Alabama should be called in and reported to local authorities, as required by law. The law enforcement officer that responds to the scene will fill out an accident report. This form can be an important piece of evidence when you go to file an insurance claim.
The car accident report contains symbols and abbreviations that can be confusing and difficult to read. However, since the car accident report may be critical to your case, it is important to know how to read and understand it.
The legal team at Norris Injury Lawyers hopes that this article will help you gain a clearer understanding of your Alabama car accident report. If you need help with your car accident case or have additional questions about your police report, do not hesitate to contact our law firm.
Call us 24/7 at (800) 477-7510, fill out the online evaluation form, or start a live chat with a representative to get started.
What is an Alabama Car Accident Report and How Can You Obtain a Copy of It?
An Alabama car accident report, commonly referred to as a police report, is a detailed record written by the police or Highway Patrol officer who responded to the accident scene. The report is typically 4 to 6 pages long and contains a description of events leading up to, during, and occurring after the car accident.
The law enforcement officer who took down your contact information and statement should provide you with a report number. If you failed to obtain the report number, you should still be able to collect a copy of the accident report using your license number.
There are several ways to obtain a copy of the police report:
- Online: You can purchase a copy of the report online at Alabama’s official government agency website
- Phone: You can call your local highway patrol office and request a copy of the report
- In person: You can go to a local police station and request a copy of the report; you will need to provide identification and pay any necessary fees
- Lawyer: The easiest way to get a copy of a police report is to ask your car accident lawyer to obtain it for you
How to Read Your Alabama Car Accident Report
A law enforcement officer will make an official report using the Alabama Uniform Traffic Crash Report form.
The following is a brief explanation of each section on page 1:
- Location and time: This section contains information about the date, time, and location of the crash. It details how many vehicles and people were involved, and if there were injuries or fatalities.
- Vehicle and driver info: These sections list each driver’s name, address, phone number, license number, insurance information, physical condition, driver impairment, and drug test results. The second part of the section contains the vehicle owner’s name, the make, model, vehicle identification number (VIN), and license number of the vehicle. It will also show if the vehicle was towed and if any citations were issued. The side section shows where the vehicle was damaged in the accident.
- Codes: The last box on this page has a list of codes connected to common causes of car accidents.
The following is a brief summary of each section on page 2:
- Seating: This documents the number of people in each vehicle and their seating position. If there was a pedestrian or other occupant of a non-motorized vehicle, that will also be indicated here.
- Victims: Here you will see contact information for others involved in the car accident. The officer will state whether anyone was injured, issued first aid, or taken to the hospital.
- Narrative and diagram: This part of the police report allows the officer to document his or her opinion of how the accident happened through a pictorial diagram and written narrative.
- Roadway environment: This section describes the road surface, lighting, visibility, and whether the accident took place in a work zone.
- Investigation: This section notes when emergency services and the police arrived at the accident scene. If there were any eyewitnesses to the crash, their contact information will be recorded here.
PAGES 3 AND 4
The following is a summary of the sections found on page 3:
- Additional accident victims: In accidents involving multiple parties, the investigating officer may need to record the names of additional accident victims in this section if there is no room to list them on page two.
- Additional narrative space: Officers will write in this section whether they need to record additional details about the events before, during, and after the car accident.
- Additional diagram space: If the officer needs more room to make a pictorial diagram, he or she will draw it here.
PAGE 5 AND 6
These pages are only filled out if a truck or commercial vehicle was involved in the collision.
Listed below is a brief description of each section:
- Screening information: This shows the number of trucks or buses involved in the incident, and the number of people injured or killed.
- Vehicle information: Here it will specify the type of tractor, trailer, or bus. You will also find the vehicle’s weight rating here and it will indicate whether or not the truck was transporting hazardous material.
- Motor carrier information: If the vehicle is a motor carrier, the contact information will be listed here.
- Sequence of events: The officer will select all applicable codes, to identify the cause of the bus or truck accident.
- Definitions: On page six you will find definitions and pictures describing various types of trucks and trailers.
What If There is an Error on Your Alabama Car Accident Report?
Unfortunately, mistakes do happen in car accident reports. Maybe the officer misheard something or transposed a digit of your license number while writing it down.
What do you do if you are reading your police report and you notice an error? The answer depends on whether the error is factual or non-factual.
If your police report contains factual errors, it is usually fairly simple to get the report amended. Examples of factual errors include spelling mistakes, writing down the wrong make and model of a vehicle, or recording the incorrect time of day the accident occurred.
You can report a factual error by calling the local law enforcement using the non-emergency number. The officer who wrote the report may be the one who handles the amendment. In order to have a factual error corrected, you will just need to provide documentation proving the error.
It is recommended to be kind and courteous when reporting the error, rather than frustrated and angry. Just like anyone else, the police will feel better about helping someone who is gracious and polite.
Non-factual errors are more difficult to prove and to have amended. An example of a non-factual error is if you do not agree with a statement given by a witness. It is not easy to prove that a witness statement is false.
You have the option of writing your own account of what happened and submitting it with the police accident report. Since your account of events is disputable, though, the police officer may choose not to submit it with the report.
If there are errors on your Alabama car accident report that could affect the payout of your claim, it is recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer is best qualified to investigate the error, work to have it amended, and ensure the mistake does not affect your right to compensation.
How Can a Car Accident Report Help Me Recover Compensation?
There are several ways in which a police report can be beneficial when you are trying to recover compensation for damages after a car accident. For starters, the report provides undeniable proof that the accident actually took place.
It also gives you the other party’s insurance information, so that you, your lawyer, or your insurance company can contact them and begin the claims process. Also, if the party that hit you was issued a citation for a traffic violation, this can be valuable evidence when determining fault.
In addition, the police report can be used to record injuries immediately after they happen, linking them to the accident. This can be helpful to a person trying to file for damages because it can be hard for victims to remember how they were feeling out of the shock that can come right after a crash.
Is a Copy of the Car Accident Report Sent to Your Insurance Company?
Law enforcement officials do not automatically send a copy of the accident report to the insurance company. In all likelihood, your insurers will not be aware that you were involved in a car accident until you or the other driver involved reports it.
However, you can be sure that after you file a claim, your insurance provider will locate and request a copy of the police report. As your insurers, they know that they may be financially liable for damages and will want all of the details of the car accident.
How Do Insurance Companies Use Alabama Car Accident Reports?
After a car accident claim is filed, an insurance company will conduct its own investigation. Since a police report contains a vast amount of information about the car accident, a big part of the investigation will involve obtaining, reading, and dissecting the report.
The details found in the Alabama car accident report will help the insurance company determine liability. At times, the opinion of the patrol officer and the insurance company may differ. The police may have stated in their report that the other party was at fault, but your insurance company could find a way to blame you.
Alabama is a “fault” state, which means that the insurance company of the party liable for the car accident is responsible for covering damages. But it can be tricky to file a claim and negotiate a fair settlement. If you need help filing an accident claim, or the insurance company has denied your claim, do not hesitate to contact Norris Injury Lawyers today.
Are Police Reports Admissible in Court?
Police reports are often used as evidence during car insurance and personal injury settlement negotiations, but car accident reports are usually not allowed to be submitted as evidence in court. In personal injury law, car accident reports are typically considered “hearsay,” which is inadmissible evidence.
The reason why car accident reports are usually considered hearsay is because the police officer did not personally observe the incident. The report is the officer’s opinion of what happened based on the information that he or she has been able to gather.
There are, at times, exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are presenting your case in small claims court, a judge may let you use the car accident report as part of the demonstration of your side of the case. Also, in some jurisdictions, a police report may be considered “public records” and be allowed an exemption for admissibility.
We Can Help After Your Alabama Car Accident
If you need assistance obtaining a car accident report, do not hesitate to contact Norris Injury Lawyers today. Our law firm has been handling car accident cases in Alabama for decades, and we know what channels to go through to obtain a copy of your report.
After getting the report, we will carefully review it with you and ensure everything is accurate. If there are inaccuracies, we will contact law enforcement for you and work hard to get it amended.
Beyond this, we can help you handle every aspect of your car accident case. As your personal injury attorneys, we will conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, file all necessary paperwork, negotiate with the insurance company, and file a strong claim on your behalf.
Our law firm offers all clients our No Fee Guarantee®. We firmly believe that everyone deserves the right to skilled legal representation, regardless of his or her current financial situation. In order to remain affordable to everyone, we represent clients on contingency. You owe us nothing unless your case is successful and you are awarded a settlement.
Schedule a free case review today by calling us at (800) 477-7510, starting a live chat, or filling out a contact form