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How To Read a Police Report

Published on Nov 11, 2022 at 6:42 pm in Car Accidents.

pollice officer preparing report

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is often the most effective way to secure compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages caused by a car accident. Proving to the insurance company that the other driver was at fault and therefore liable for all of your damages is not easy, though. 

Civil cases like car accident claims require you to prove your case by providing a preponderance of the evidence. This is different than the proof requirements in a criminal case, which must be beyond a reasonable doubt. A preponderance of the evidence simply means that you must demonstrate that your claim is more likely true than not. 

Collecting sufficient evidence to prove your claim can be challenging if you do not know where to look or how to interpret information. For example, understanding how to access and read a police report is one of the most effective ways to prove that you were harmed by another driver’s reckless or negligent actions. 

The Difference Between a Police Report and a Civilian Traffic Collision Report 

There are two options for filing a report after an accident in Kentucky—a police report and a civilian collision report. The biggest difference between these two types of reports comes down to who files them: 

  • A police report is filed by the police officer that responds to the scene of the accident. 
  • A civilian traffic collision report is filed by the drivers involved in the accident. 

Both responding officers and involved drivers have up to 10 days after a car crash to file their reports. 

When Is a Police Report Required? 

Kentucky state law requires you to immediately notify police of an accident if: 

  • There are any non-fatal or fatal injuries 
  • One or more of the involved vehicles is rendered inoperable 

If you are unsure whether your accident meets the criteria that necessitates calling the police, err on the side of caution and notify them anyway. You could potentially face legal repercussions if you or another person suffered a serious injury but did not call your local Kentucky police department at the time of the accident. 

While at the scene, a police officer will: 

  • Interview the involved drivers and any passengers 
  • Take pictures of the accident scene 
  • Speak with witnesses 
  • Facilitate the exchange of information between drivers 
  • Investigate potential causes 

A responding officer may go ahead and determine who they think caused the accident. If the accident report shows that the other driver was at-fault for the collision, you can use that information in a personal injury case. Always exercise caution when speaking with a police officer, though. Any statements that could be misinterpreted as admitting fault could lead to you being named as the responsible party in the accident report. 

If another driver caused your accident but the officer names you as the at-fault party in the report, contact a car accident lawyer right away to determine your legal rights. You may still be able to recover compensation for your damages regardless of what the police report says. 

When Is a Civilian Traffic Collision Report Required? 

If, for any reason, a police officer did not respond to your accident, conduct an on-scene investigation, and file a police report, it is up to you to file a civilian traffic collision report with the Kentucky State Police. Civilian traffic collision reports are only required when an accident results in at least $500 in property damage. 

You have only 10 days to file your civilian report. In addition to the date, time, and place of the collision, you must include the following information for both drivers in your report: 

  • Name 
  • Address 
  • Phone number 
  • Driver’s license number 
  • Insurance information 
  • Vehicle make and model 
  • License number 
  • Vehicle damage 
  • The estimated cost of auto repairs 
  • Damage to non-vehicle property (such as street signs) 
  • A brief description of what happened 

You may file your civilian traffic collision report through the Kentucky State Police online portal or in person at your local police department, or the police department within the jurisdiction where your accident took place. 

How To Access a Copy of Your Accident Report 

If you are located in Lexington, KY and need to access a copy of your police report, you may do so by contacting the local police station that filed your report. The fee to obtain a copy of your report may vary, but will typically cost no more than $10. 

If you are unsure of how to access a copy of your accident report or do not know what your accident report number is, contact your attorney right away for help. 

How To Read a Police Report 

Correctly interpreting and understanding the information contained within a police accident report is key to the overall success of your car accident claim. Here is how to read your police report: 

  • Driver Information – The names, addresses, phone numbers, license numbers, and insurance information of all drivers. 
  • Vehicle Information – The registration number, make, model, year, and color of all vehicles. 
  • Crash Information – Time, location, and date of the accident.
  • Injuries – Non-fatal and fatal injuries suffered by the drivers or any other vehicle occupants. 
  • Property Damage – Area of contact, the extent of any damage, and estimated vehicle travel speeds of all vehicles. 
  • Description of Collision – The mechanics of the accident (such as rear-end or sideswipe) and the responding officer’s determination of fault. 
  • Diagram – A rough sketch of the accident scene that includes the direction of vehicle travel, skid marks, and more. 

In terms of a personal injury lawsuit, the most important information from your accident report pertains to your injuries, vehicle damage, and fault. Remember that you are not the only person with access to this report, either. As you are using your accident report to prove that you were harmed by another person’s actions, the insurance company will be looking for any information they can use to deny liability and limit your ability to recover compensation. 

Do You Need Help Reading Your Car Accident Report? 

The attorneys at Golden Law Office are dedicated to advocating on behalf of car accident victims in Kentucky. We have experience handling a wide range of complex motor vehicle cases and are prepared to help you read, interpret, and utilize the information in your car accident report. 

Contact us today to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys. 

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