Understanding Your California Car Accident Report
Immediately after a car accident, you need to make sure the evidence accurately reflects what happened. And one of the most important pieces of evidence is your official State of California Traffic Collision Report. The police officer investigating your accident fills out this report. Insurance companies then use this 4-page-long document to determine how much money you will receive for your crash. But understanding your accident report can be confusing. That's why the Law Offices of Brian Brandt prepared this step-by-step guide for such reports. If you have more questions about your report or want to know what to do after a car accident, simply contact us and schedule your free consultation. We're here for you.
Verify all the information on the first page of your California traffic collision report. Don't overlook a single detail, no matter how minor it might seem. From the time and location of your accident to your name and address, verify all the facts. Pay particularly close attention to what the investigating police officer wrote in the box marked "Describe Vehicle Damage." Make sure you absolutely agree with the officer's assessment of the damage to your car or other vehicles. Otherwise, an insurance company might try to pay you less for your injury.
The cause of your crash plays a critical role in determining how much money you will receive for your losses. That's why this page of your collision report matters so much. Almost the entire page is devoted to what caused your car accident. From weather conditions to lighting, roadway conditions and whether traffic signals were working, all this information can be found on this page and needs to be carefully reviewed. Pay attention to what the investigating officer wrote in the section marked "Sobriety Drug Physical." Did the officer mark the box "HBD - Under Influence"? HBD means "had been drinking." And if the officer checked this box for the other driver, you could have grounds for a legitimate drunk driving accident case. Also review the sketch of your accident on the lower part of this page. Does the sketch look accurate? Or do you disagree?
Investigating police officers and insurance companies highly value the testimony of people who witnessed a car accident. This page is devoted to statements from witnesses and passengers injured in your accident. Make sure you completely agree with their statements and description of your accident. Insurance companies carefully examine these statements when determining how much money to compensate accident victims. If you believe these statements are not accurate, contact us. We can work with you to make sure your account of the accident makes its way into the official accident report.
This entire page of the collision report is devoted to a diagram of the accident drawn by the investigating police officer. This page might not seem that important. But here again, it's critical that you agree with the officer's assessment of your accident. Are the vehicles in the right place on the diagram? Are the angles correct? If the other driver crossed a double yellow line and struck your vehicle in your lane, does the diagram show this?
Click here to download a printable version.