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How to Read a Car Accident Report

If you were injured in a vehicle accident in Illinois that wasn’t your fault, it is necessary for you to know how to read and understand your Illinois Crash Report. Knowing how to read your Crash Report will tell you how the responding officer perceived your accident, including who was at fault. If you disagree with how the Crash Report describes the accident, you need to take steps to correct the Report so it reflects what actually happened.

When Is an Illinois Crash Report Necessary?

crash reportIn an Illinois vehicle accident, the responding officer or the involved driver must file a Crash Report under certain circumstances. There must be a Report if the accident caused death or bodily injury. A law enforcement officer or driver must also file a Report if the accident caused more than $1,500.00 in property damage, if all drivers are insured, or if it caused more than $500.00 in property damage if any driver does not have insurance.

Suppose no law enforcement officer comes to the accident scene. In that case, the driver is responsible for directly filing a Crash Report with the Illinois State Police or other local law enforcement within ten days. If an officer is at the scene, the driver can ask the officer to file the Crash Report, which they are legally required to do.

Why Is an Illinois Crash Report Important?

Crash Reports are helpful evidence. While not typically admissible at trial, insurance companies often rely on Crash Reports to help evaluate who was at fault for the accident. Also, suppose you must file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your accident-related injuries and losses. In that case, the Crash Report can help the responding officer and other witnesses refresh their recollections of the accident. The responding officer can read from or refer to the Report while testifying at a trial or deposition. Further, the Crash Report will be an expert’s primary resource if your attorney needs to hire an expert to reconstruct the accident and determine fault.

The Illinois Crash Report has two pages. The first page has general but important information. The second page has a pictorial narrative of the accident.

What Information Does an Illinois Crash Report Contain? Page One:

On the first page, you will find important information such as the accident’s date, time, and place. It will also include the drivers’ names, license numbers, and the registered owner’s name for each vehicle. The Crash Report also details the vehicles involved in the accident, including each vehicle’s make, model, and year.

The Report will note whether the accident caused injury, the damage done to each vehicle, and what part of the vehicle was damaged. If the accident caused personal injury, this page states whether emergency services transported someone and, if so, to what hospital. If the accident damages property, the first page will also provide information about whose property is damaged and what damages occurred.

Next to where the officer notes damage, there are boxes in which the officer can note if a driver was on a cell phone or exceeded the speed limit. Further, the bottom of the first page also states whether law enforcement cited or arrested any driver. These pieces of information are critical to the analysis of who was at fault for the accident. If you disagree with any information in the Report, you should get it changed as soon as you can.

What Information Does an Illinois Crash Report Contain? Page Two:

car crash report witnessThe second page of the Crash Report provides an accident diagram and a narrative. Whoever prepares the Report, usually the responding police officer, must diagram the location of the accident, the direction each vehicle traveled, and where the vehicles ended up after the accident. This diagram often contains valuable information, such as whether there were traffic signals or skid marks, which can help establish the accident’s cause.

The narrative section follows the diagram and is equally important. The responding police officer will provide a written explanation of how the officer believed the accident happened. This narrative typically includes the officer’s impressions and observations from the scene and notes from witness interviews.

Why You Should Contact Us

The Crash Report is an important document. If it contains inaccurate information, or if you need help requesting a report we can help. If the information is accurate, your attorney can contact the police agency that wrote the report to discuss why you believe the report is in error and to try to get it corrected. If you were injured in a car crash that wasn’t your fault, please contact the Kankakee car accident attorneys of  Spiros Law, P.C. at (815) 929-9292 to learn more about your options.