How to Read an Accident Report
Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2022 at 3:50 pm
If you were involved in a car accident in Texas, the investigating officer will complete a detailed and very important report called the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3). This report contains a trove of information about your accident. It is a key piece of evidence that insurance companies and lawyers use to determine what happened and who is responsible. Therefore, it is critical that you review this report carefully to ensure its accuracy.
Obtaining an Accident Report
You can obtain your accident report from the Texas Department of Transportation Crash Report Online Purchase System. You will need to provide one of the following pieces of information in order to search the system:
- Name of a person involved in the crash
- Driver License/ID Card Number of a person involved in the crash
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a vehicle involved in the crash
- TxDOT Crash ID assigned to the crash
If Portner Bond, PLLC represents you, we can handle the accident report request on your behalf. Whether we represent you or not, you should review the report thoroughly and closely. If you find any inaccuracies or disagree with the investigator’s conclusions, notify the investigating officer immediately and consider hiring an experienced car accident lawyer to help you correct the record.
Reading an Accident Report
Once you have your accident report, take the time to read it carefully. Here’s an overview of the report’s pages and notable components:
Page 1 has three sections. The top section includes identification and location information about the accident, such as when and where the accident happened. There is one very important box in this section that asks, “In your opinion, did this crash result in at least $1,000 damage to any one person’s property?” The investigator can check either yes or no. This response, which is based solely on the investigator’s opinion, can have a direct impact on the insurance company’s determination about compensation.
The other two sections on page 1 include detailed information on the two vehicles involved in the accident and the driver and any passengers of the respective vehicles. The officer will also note the severity of each individual’s injuries, whether they were wearing a seatbelt, and if their airbag deployed. Importantly, the investigating officer will also note if the driver was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the results of any alcohol or drug test administered at the crash site.
Page 2 begins with a listing of any injured or killed individuals, including where the individual was taken after the accident and the date and time of death. The next sections list any charges that were filed related to the accident and any damaged property other than the two vehicles listed on page 1. If a commercial motor vehicle was involved in the accident, there is a section for relevant information.
The bottom of the page has three very important sections. First, there are notes on contributing factors and conditions, including vehicle defects and environmental conditions. The officer’s notes in this section could significantly impact an insurance company’s determination of fault, such as whether a driver was inattentive, fatigued, drinking, or using their cell phone. Second, there is a large open section for the investigator’s narrative opinion of what happened in the accident. The third section provides space for the investigator to draw a diagram of the accident.
Review the investigator’s notes on factors and conditions, the accident narrative, and field diagram very closely and compare those with your own recollection of and evidence from the crash. If you disagree with the investigator’s opinion, it is important that you raise your objections promptly.
Pages 3-4 list the codes that will be used throughout the report. Use these pages to check the corresponding boxes in the report and confirm that the investigator has chosen the appropriate code.
Pages 5-6 provide space for a listing of other individuals involved in the accidents, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The investigator will note each individual’s injury severity.
Contact Portner Bond, PLLC
If you were involved in an accident and have concerns about the accuracy of your accident report, Portner Bond, PLLC is ready to help. Our experienced car accident attorneys are very familiar with these reports and understand the implications of inaccuracies in the record. We can investigate and advocate on your behalf.