If you were involved in a motor vehicle crash, you might be suffering from severe injuries. While it is essential that you seek medical attention, it might also be important to obtain information about the crash, such as a traffic accident report, in case you wish to pursue a claim for compensation.
However, after a wreck, you might be traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. Instead of navigating this process alone, however, a lawyer at the Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. might be able to help. A knowledgeable attorney could help to explain the significance and use of car crash reports for a Michigan claim, as well as work tirelessly to gather the pertinent evidence needed to request recovery for your losses.
The Value of the Crash Report
After a crash, it might be difficult for a victim to remember the exact chain of events leading up to—or during—the incident. However, a car crash report is the first official documentation regarding an accident, which means it might help to explain some of the key factors regarding damages, injuries, and even fault, depending on the circumstances.
This is the reason why an accident report might become an extremely valuable source of documentation for a victim. Without a report, the other driver or others involved might argue that the wreck did not happen, that claimed damages already existed prior to the crash, or that the damages were not as severe as the victim is claiming.
What Information is in a Michigan Accident Report?
After a crash, the investigating police officer will note facts and information about the scene in a car accident report, such as the weather conditions, the lighting in the area, and the conditions of the roadway. This information alone might prove beneficial to a claim from an innocent driver against a negligent motorist, depending on the circumstances. For example, if the officer notes that the lighting in the area was good and the road was dry at the time of the accident, this might be used to contradict the story of a defendant who later claims it was dark or that the road was wet.
However, there are numerous other facts that are likely to be included in a crash report. This might include details about:
- Types of injuries suffered by all those involved in the wreck
- A description of how the accident occurred
- Information about all witnesses and eyewitnesses
- Information about the drivers and occupants of the vehicles
- Who was at fault in the accident—if possible to determine
- Damage to the vehicles—including the type of car and the location of any damage
- Road type—if it was paved, had gravel, hills, and number of lanes
- Road conditions—dry, wet, icy, loose gravel, pot holes
- Weather conditions—rain, snow, fog, sunny, clear
- Traffic control devices present—traffic light, stop sign, yield signs
- Time of the accident
- The specific location of the crash
The crash report also usually contains statements of both eyewitnesses and drivers involved in the accident. This usually occurs at either the scene of the crash or later at the hospital. These statements are usually important, as they are taken shortly after the incident and, therefore, are often more reliable than those given months or a year later if a lawsuit is filed.
While these documents are not admissible in court, the investigating officer can refer to the information contained in the report during the officer’s testimony. Furthermore, drawings and diagrams contained in the report may be admissible if the judge allows it during the trial. Lastly, if a civil lawsuit is filed, a seasoned attorney could subpoena witnesses for depositions. These are sworn statements under oath given in the presence of attorneys and a court reporter.
Obtaining and Reading a Report
Often, accident records are required by an insurance company if an injury claim is to be filed—including no-fault insurance claims and property damage claims. To obtain one, a person could contact the local police department directly. Furthermore, a traffic crash report for any Michigan law enforcement agency can usually be obtained online at the Michigan State Police website.
Once a report is obtained, it is important to understand how exactly to read it. This is essential for a number of reasons, including the possibility that additional facts are not included in the report that places fault on an innocent driver. Because of the delicate nature of this process, it might prove beneficial for anyone looking to understand a crash report to contact an experienced attorney for help. Along with helping an injured driver to read a report, a hardworking attorney might also help by tracking down statements from eyewitnesses to try to determine how a crash happened and where the fault lies.
What if the Information in the Accident Report is Incorrect?
Usually, the investigating police officer did not witness the accident. Therefore, the officer is relying on a basic inspection of the vehicles and informal witness interviews when trying to determine how a crash occurred. Unfortunately, this means that the officer’s conclusions might be based on misinformation or a misunderstanding about how exactly an accident was caused.
Often, for example, one motorist is transported to the hospital, while the other driver is the only one who can give an initial statement about what happened. Depending on who was at fault, this motorist might simply give a self-serving statement to alleviate their own blame.
Therefore, if the information someone reads in a report is inaccurate, they should have the opportunity to submit their own version of the crash to the investigating police department. Depending on the circumstances, the department might consider this version of events and even change the finding of fault. If this information is rejected, however, an individual still has an opportunity to dispute the findings of fault at a traffic court hearing.
Call a Lawyer to Discuss the Use of a Michigan Crash Report
If you were injured in a motor vehicle wreck, obtaining a car crash report might prove beneficial with any ensuing legal claims in Michigan. However, reading and utilizing a report might prove difficult, especially as you recover from your losses. By enlisting a well-versed lawyer at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., you could have help with obtaining and reading an accident report, as well as using its information to help bolster an injury claim.
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