How To Read a Georgia Crash Report

Posted: 01.10.22

CATEGORY: Car Accident Motor Vehicle Accidents

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.

When Are Crash Reports Required?

According to Georgia Code section 40-6-273, crash reports are mandatory after an accident that:

  • Results in injury or fatality
  • Creates property damage of $500 or more

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.

Contact the Investigating Agency

You may contact the police department investigating the crash to request their report. For accidents in the Atlanta metro region, click here for direct contact information.

What to Look for in a Crash Report

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
  • Towing service
  • Names, contact information, and statements from witnesses
  • DUI test results
  • Traffic offense and citation
  • Officer’s remarks

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.

Top Sections

Top section of a Georgia crash report

Location

The top section includes the date, location, address, accident report number, and the time of the officer’s arrival on the scene.

Driver Information

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.

Middle Sections

Middle sections of a Georgia crash report

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.

Witness Information

Police officers use this section to identify witnesses. They collect their name, phone number, and a brief description of what they saw or heard.

Police Remarks

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.

Bottom Sections

Bottom sections of a Georgia crash report

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.

Skid Distance

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.

Airbag Deployment

Officers indicate the location and number of airbags deployed upon impact.

Observed Injuries at the Scene

The last and one of the most critical sections of the crash report is at the bottom. This section contains the officer’s observation of injuries at the scene. The report identifies the injured and located inside the car (or pedestrians or cyclists).

How Crash Reports Help Your Case

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.

Help Starts Here After a Car Accident

As car accident lawyers, we understand that you might feel overwhelmed after a crash. You do not have to navigate the insurance claims process on your own. Let an experienced attorney with The Champion Firm request a crash report, compile evidence, and negotiate a fair settlement for you. We’ve recovered over $70 million in damages for accident victims in Georgia.

Schedule your free, no-risk consultation today. Call The Champion Firm at 404-596-8044 or use our easy online contact form.