Georgia law enforcement officers who respond to traffic accidents must submit a crash report to the Department of Transportation. These crash reports – formally called the Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Report – contain valuable information, including the date, time, location, drivers’ names, and insurance policy information.
Depending on the circumstances, the crash report also contains witness statements, sobriety test results, citations, and the officer’s evaluation about which party is at fault.
Insurance companies and the court consider crash reports as objective and factual. Pursuing compensation is more straightforward when insurance adjusters have evidence of liability.
Each law enforcement agency is responsible for filing reports with the Georgia Department of Transportation as soon as possible after the accident.
When to Call the Police
It is in your best interest to call the police after an accident involving another vehicle. Responding officers assess the situation and file a crash report. Without a crash report, the other driver could try to blame you, or may even dispute whether the accident happened.
What Goes in the Crash Report?
After their investigation, the police officer will complete the crash report, considering all direct and indirect factors, such as traffic conditions and suspected impairment.
As trained observers, they will record the approximate time of the accident, the location of the crash, the identifying information of those involved, and any vital information relating to causation.
How to Request a Crash Report in Georgia
There are several ways to request and obtain a crash report.
Order Report From the GDOT
The Georgia Department of Transportation provides copies of crash reports for $5 each or $7 for a certified copy. You must pay by cashier’s check or money order using this downloadable order form.
Use a Third-Party Provider
For about $10 per report, you can also use a third-party provider called BuyCrash.com. You can pay with a credit or debit card.
Crash reports contain a wealth of information about the accident. One of the first items to look for is insurance information. You’ll need this to file a claim, either by yourself or with the help of an attorney.
Crash reports might include information about:
Traffic and weather conditions
Skid marks, including location and distance
Damage to vehicle
Other property damage
Position of vehicles after impact
Whether airbags deployed
Injuries to vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and others
Names, contact information, and statements from witnesses
DUI test results
Traffic offense and citation
Police officers don’t always assign fault in their remarks. However, their liability assessment against the other party is a distinct advantage when pursuing compensation.
How to Read a Crash Report
Crash reports can be confusing. Aside from the formal language or shorthand used by the officer, the print is also relatively small.
The easiest way to read a crash report is by sections. Here are the highlights in each area.
The top section includes the date, location, address, accident report number, and the time of the officer’s arrival on the scene.
Directly beneath the location information are details about each driver, including contact information, drivers’ license data, name of their insurance company, and policy number.
Vehicle Owner Information
This section contains the name, address, and phone number of the vehicle’s owner if different from the driver.
Contributing Factors & Towing
Located underneath the driver and vehicle information section is a section for contributing factors. Examples of contributing factors include running a red light, failure to yield, or speeding.
The officer completing the crash report also notes the name and address of the licensed tow truck that removed the damaged vehicle.
DUI Test & Results
This portion of the report also states whether the officer performed a breathalyzer test.
Georgia has an implied consent rule for DUI testing, and the consequences for refusing a test are severe. The report includes the results of the test. A blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% is considered legally intoxicated.
Police officers use this section to identify witnesses. They collect their name, phone number, and a brief description of what they saw or heard.
The section for police remarks is below witness information. Police officers use their experience and training to write a summary of what occurred before, during, and after the crash. They may also identify which party bears the responsibility for the collision.
Citations & Offense
This area contains traffic citations and offenses under Georgia law. It is helpful for an insurance claim when the at-fault driver receives a moving violation.
Weather & Traffic Conditions
The responding police officer notes the weather, lighting conditions, traffic, and other factors that might have contributed to the crash.
Damage to Vehicles
This section includes information on the location and severity of vehicle damage.
The columns for skid distance are adjacent to the vehicle’s damage section. Police officers measure the skid distance before impact and after. This information helps determine several factors, including whether a driver was speeding, following too closely, or making an improper lane change.
Officers indicate the location and number of airbags deployed upon impact.
Crash reports are a reliable evaluation of the accident, its causes, and which party is at fault. Police officers are physically at the scene, usually within minutes. They have also experienced observers who receive ongoing education and training in accident reconstruction, alcohol testing procedures, and other traffic-related issues.
Another benefit of including a crash report with your claim is that a police officer is a third party with nothing to gain or lose from an insurance claim. Adjusters are inclined to view a sworn law enforcement officer’s report as an objective source of reliable information.
The Champion Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.