In a previous post, I outlined how to get a copy of a Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Report. Now that you have obtained one, other questions may arise such as: a) “What do all those funny codes mean”; b) “How do you interpret the diagrams”? and c) “Is the accident report admissible in court?”
The Georgia Accident Report is drafted, coded and signed by a police officer or other law enforcement official in charge of investigating an auto accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident in the state of Georgia. All Georgia police officers are trained to complete accident reports at the police academy. Georgia officers must learn and know the Georgia Accident Report Training Instructions.
Usually, an accident report is completed by the officer that arrives on the scene, interviews the witnesses, makes the measurements and assesses the facts. They sometimes include the Georgia Accident Report Overlay or Key, which serves as a legend for the codes on the accident report. The officer can choose to cite one or both drivers, or neither driver.
Sometimes these forms are hand-coded and sometimes they are typed. Sometimes they are not completed correctly. Officers are human. They make mistakes. It is the responsibility of those who were involved in the accident to seek out the officer and convince him to correct these forms or point out irregularities in the forms that could affect the driver’s substantive rights. Call the officer if the accident report is wrong.
Just because you try to contact an officer, however, does not mean he will call you back. I have had good luck getting police officers to call me back. Being that I am an injury trial lawyer, they usually would rather talk to me on the phone then have me issue them a subpoena. No one likes to sit all day around the courthouse I suppose.
Are Georgia Accident Reports admissible in court? Not generally. Accident Reports are considered heresay evidence. Heresay is not generally admissible. However, if the officer who drafted the report is on the stand, you may be able to use the report to help the officer refresh his memory or to impeachment the officer if his testimony differs from what is on the report.
What happens with an auto or truck accident causing the death of a driver or passenger? A special investigation must be performed and a supplemental accident report completed. This is a complicated topic for another day.
Accident reports can be great for proving your case against the offending driver. They are usually right, and insurance companies usually respect the results. If the accident report is wrong, however, all is not lost. Just be proactive in making sure your rights are protected. Talk to an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney if you are seriously injured in a Georgia motor vehicle accident and you are worried about what has been included or omitted from the accident report.