Besides the ambulance and the fire trucks, the first person on the scene of an accident is often a police officer. They will interview those who saw the accident, the drivers involved, and they may ask to see any available dashcam footage.
All this evidence is carefully noted and used to tell a story of who was at fault, as well as to detail the factors that led to the accident. Interpreting accident reports, especially when undertaken by a trucking accident lawyer, can ensure the officer left no stone unturned in his or her investigation.
Who Has Rights to an Accident Report?
Many police reports are theoretically public record. However, this doesn’t mean just anyone can go digging through the file cabinets at their local police precinct. Typically, one must have a vested interest in examining the report. While this obviously includes the parties involved and their attorneys, there may be others.
Entities such as the media will often attempt to obtain accident reports in an effort to report the news, especially if the accident was noteworthy or involved multiple injuries or fatalities.
As the years have gone by, some state and local governments have made obtaining reports harder, or have gone to great lengths to conceal the identities of those involved in accidents. This is especially true when minors are involved.
Why Do Trucking Companies Want an Accident Report?
While the obvious reason a trucking company would want an accident report is so they can defend themselves in court, trucking companies compile accident reports for many reasons.
A trucking company’s insurance carrier will want to see a copy of the accident report, as the report may make or break the insurance premiums for the company. Enhanced insurance scrutiny is just one of the ways trucking accidents are different from car accidents.
If the report finds evidence of the trucking company being grossly negligent, their insurance carrier may refuse to insure the trucking company’s vehicles in the future.
Driver and Safety Records
While it may seem heartwarming for a company to focus on safety, the true reason for encouraging safety among its drivers is the impact of accidents on a company’s bottom line.
Much like the government will release in-depth reports of plane crashes, a trucking company’s internal investigators may tear apart the accident report looking for anything that could be done differently to prevent future accidents and limit the company’s liability.
Accident Reports Aren’t the Final Story
How fault is determined after a trucking accident is complicated. Some drivers may take the police officer’s accident report at face value and accept blame for the accident. This makes recovering money from their own insurance company difficult or even impossible.
In reality, police officers are just as error-prone as the rest of us. They can miss details, forget statements, and write incorrect reports for all kinds of reasons. All of this put together means that accident reports may be littered with falsehoods.
Untangling the truth from the fiction is a job best left to a reputable trucking accident attorney, such as those from Strom Law. Our attorneys will examine the accident report, seek out additional witnesses, obtain CCTV and traffic cam footage, and work with expert investigators to examine the vehicle damage.
With a knowledgeable trucking accident lawyer on your side, you can rest easy knowing that someone is fighting on your behalf to set the record straight and help you get the compensation you deserve!