In the aftermath of a car accident, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure of the steps you need to take to protect your legal rights. For example, navigating the insurance claims process can often be confusing. Insurance adjusters routinely try to take advantage of injured victims. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, consider contacting an experienced car accident attorney to help answer your legal questions and help you understand your next steps.
One of those steps may be how to read a Georgia (GA) crash report. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Butler Law Firm are ready to review any evidence, investigate the accident report, research relevant case law, interview witnesses, and more. Contact our car accident attorneys if you think we might be able to help you.
What Is a Crash Report For?
A Georgia crash report is a document drafted by police officers who respond to a car accident scene. This crash report is designed to provide an easy-to-read set of data that explains essential information, such as who was involved in the accident, how the accident occurred, and what injuries were suffered by which parties.
The crash report will also indicate whether the police officers issued any tickets or citations to any drivers involved in the crash.
Reading Boxes 1-11 on the Georgia Crash Report
When you look at a Georgia motor vehicle crash report, you will see multiple boxes, but how to read a GA car crash report can remain unclear. To get a better idea of what it includes, it is easier to separate the report into 11 sections.
Box 1 and 2
This area of the Georgia crash report contains information about the first driver, the second driver, or any other party involved, including each driver’s insurance company, insurance policy number, vehicle information, and contact information. There is also an area here for the police to check if they suspect one of the drivers was at fault.
Box 3 and 4
This section shows whether a test for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol was administered and any test results.
This section addresses any contributing factors to the car accident, whether by the vehicle’s operator, the vehicle itself, or the roadway Contributing factors include whether the driver was in a work zone, what direction they were traveling, what the weather conditions were at the time of the crash, whether their vision was obscured, what speed they were going versus what the speed limit was, how they were moving or stopped, and where the area of contact was. Many times, the investigating officer will not issue a citation or indicate which driver was at fault, but the contributing factors box will show which driver caused the accident.
This area of a Georgia crash report explains citation information. The citations that are issued can help determine which driver is responsible for causing the accident. If you do not understand the statute codes written after the citation information in your Georgia crash report, our experienced attorneys at Bulter Law Firm can explain how these statutes may pertain to your specific facts and circumstances.
This section contains the police officer’s narrative. At the time of an accident, the police officer will ask each driver, passenger, and witness, if any, their perspective and opinion of the events surrounding the car accident. The narrative section is where the police officer explains that information and determines who they believe is at fault.
If a citation was issued, the person receiving the citation is typically found at fault. However, if no citation was issued, this section will explain why they decided which driver was to blame. A diagram section makes it easier for a police officer to draw a picture of what they believe transpired to cause the car accident. This section also includes information about the weather conditions, the light, and the road’s surface conditions.
Keep in mind that the police do not have the final say on civil liability for a crash. That is ultimately up to the courts if an insurance settlement proves impossible.
This area addresses any property damage sustained to something other than a vehicle and the property owners’ identity.
This section includes witness information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers.
This area focuses on occupant information, including a list of the names of any additional passengers in the vehicles, where they were seated, whether they were wearing safety equipment like seat belts, what injuries were sustained, when emergency medical services (EMS) were notified, when they arrived to treat those injuries, and when or if the occupants were taken to the hospital.
The final box is administrative. It explains whether photographs or videos of the scene were taken and, if so, by which police officer. It will also indicate when specific reports were filed. If the collision resulted in a fatality, additional notification is included in this section regarding those deaths.
Using Information from a Georgia Crash Report in a Claim
When you file an insurance claim after a car accident, you have to prove another driver or other party was negligent, and the car accident was the direct result of that negligence.
Information from a Georgia crash report can help substantiate whether you qualify to file a claim in the state of Georgia. The ways that information from a GA crash report can be used to file a claim include the following:
- Showing that the other driver was at fault since police officers issued them a citation
- Information regarding damage to vehicles
- Information regarding injuries suffered by victims of the car accident
- Information provided by the police officer regarding his or her opinion of the car accident
When Should You Seek Legal Help After a Car Accident in Georgia?
Under O.C.G.A. §9-3-33, an individual injured by a car accident must file a lawsuit within two years from the date he or she received their injuries or losses. If you have been injured in a car accident, you should consider seeking legal help after a car accident as soon as possible.
While two years may seem like a substantial amount of time, conducting an independent investigation, negotiating with insurance companies, and developing a strong personal injury case can take a great deal of time.
If you have been in a car accident, consider reaching out to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys who can tell you how to read a GA car crash report and how to use the information in it to your advantage.