We rely on police officers to maintain peace in our neighborhoods and to ensure that the rule of law is enforced. Beyond that, we also need them to record important information via police reports. However, there are also times when the need to amend a police report arises.
That is understandable. We all make mistakes, and there is no reason why police officers would be the exception.
Still, an error in a police report is not like a mistake in any other document. A single error can influence the initial impression of a case and have lasting consequences.
In this article, we will discuss how to correct errors in police reports, why they appear in the first place, and how having an experienced lawyer who knows how to try cases with accurate and inaccurate reports is critical to your case’s success.
The Steps to Amend a Police Report
The process of getting a police report amended is simple. Detailed in this section are the steps you should take if you need a police report corrected. Keep them in mind so you know what to do if you ever find yourself in that kind of scenario.
These are the steps you should follow:
- Contact Police Department that Wrote Report
- Do Not Be Rude
- Provide Documentation
- Act as Quickly as Possible
- Issue a Statement
- Partner with a Lawyer
Contact Police Department that Wrote Report
The first step is to contact the police department, and ideally, the officer who wrote the report to make any changes. Often, police officers work on shifts, so they may not be on duty when you call. But you can speak with the officer at the front desk, or whoever picks up the phone, to say that the police report is inaccurate and you would like to make a change. More often than not, the police report will not be changed, but a supplementary report will be issued indicating that you called, you thought the report contained errors, and here are the errors.
Do Not Be Rude
Acting rude when you do not get your way may make you feel better in the moment, but it does not work. All it does is give others the impression that you can be a problematic person to deal with. Now, do you want the police officers to get that impression of you?
If you must speak with police officers to correct a report, do so politely. Respectfully approach them and they will respond in kind. Do not try to undermine them in front of their colleagues or supervisors because that will get you nowhere.
It is also important to exercise some patience during this time. Remember that officers often have a lot of cases to deal with at any given time.
As highlighted by this UCLA article, police officers first respond to crimes in progress, fires, other emergencies, and earlier requests for reports before they get to you. They are not refusing to serve you because they do not want to. They may simply be busy.
Wait for a bit, and they will address your concerns. Showing a little bit of patience can go a long way in that situation.
Police officers deal with people lying regularly. It is a part of their job. That could explain why they are not keen on believing you right away when you say they made a mistake.
If you need an error in the police report corrected, it would be smart to provide documentation showing that you are telling the truth. The documents you may have to present may change depending on the errors themselves.
For example, you may have told the police officer at the scene of the car accident that you had no injuries. At the time, you felt fine, so you had no reason to suspect there was anything wrong with you.
Later that day, you got a massive headache that led you to believe that maybe you were injured. After consulting with a doctor, they confirmed that you did indeed sustain a brain injury. With that new information in hand, you want to amend the police report.
Take your medical records with you to the police station and use them to back up your claims. Show the note from the doctor, so the police officer will note that you did get injured in their report.
The error in the police report may also be due to you giving out incorrect information related to your car or your home. It is easy to make mistakes when you are in a stressful situation.
Gather any supporting documents you have at home so you can correct the error. Bring any document that you believe will be relevant. The police officer will have no choice other than to correct the error in the face of such overwhelming evidence.
Act as Quickly as Possible
Time is of the essence if you are planning to file a lawsuit. You do not want to wait around too long and give the other party a way to wriggle out of compensating you properly for the incident. That is why you need to act quickly with regards to the police report.
Start by telling the police officer that you would like a copy of the report as soon as it becomes available. Go ahead and ask for their contact information so you can get updates on the status of the police report.
Once it is available, go over the police report thoroughly and look for any inaccurate bits of information. If you spot any mistakes, inform the police officer immediately. They will be more inclined to correct the error if you inform them as soon as possible.
Issue a Statement
While examining the report, you may find some incorrect details. They may even be painting a picture of the incident that is the opposite of what you experienced.
Do not be surprised to find those details if the officer spoke to the other party first. During that conversation, the opposing party may have weaved a narrative where you are the one to blame for the incident, even if that is not the case.
Since you are disputing information provided earlier, the police officer may not be as quick to correct the report. That is even more likely to happen if you do not currently have evidence available.
So, what should you do if you find yourself in that situation? Your best option is to issue a statement.
Include your version of the events in your statement, and make sure to mention facts only. Avoid speculating because that can prove to be an issue down the line.
Once you finish your statement, give it to the police officer and ask them to attach it to the report. You should make good use of that statement as you move forward with your lawsuit.
Partner with a Lawyer
Convincing a police officer to amend their report can be a time-consuming process. That is especially true if you need to gather documentation to make your case. You may not be able to do that if you have a full-time job or if you are still recovering from your injuries.
The good news is that lawyers can help with that problem. Enlist the help of a lawyer and ask them to speak to the police officer on your behalf. Your lawyer is also likely to have more success talking with the police officer because they have more experience doing that.
Furthermore, your lawyer can collect the evidence needed to convince the officer to alter their report, so you can focus on your job or recovery while they handle your affairs.
Ultimately, if the police report can’t be amended, or the error fixed, you will need an experienced, savvy trial lawyer to handle your case with the presence of an error. It is important to reach out to a skilled lawyer early in the life of your case.
Why Officers Make Errors in Police Reports
No one likes seeing errors in police reports, but they may emerge from time to time. You cannot expect perfection from anyone, and that goes for police officers as well.
To better understand why those mistakes, happen, we will discuss the nature of those errors. We often classify those errors into one of two groups.
Those groups are:
- Disputed Information
- Factual Errors
We touched on this earlier, but it is worth noting again that some of the errors in the police report are born out of disputed information. In a case involving a car accident, the two parties involved may relay two different versions of what happened.
One side may be telling the truth, while the other may be lying. It is also possible that both sides are crafting their testimonies carefully, so neither tale is completely true.
The police officer is not necessarily the one at fault if the error in the report came from disputed information. The issue is that they must deal with differing accounts.
It is not easy to convince a police officer that your testimony holds more value than what the other party provided. You can let the facts speak for themselves, but you may not have enough evidence early on.
Consider this as another reason why you need to hire a lawyer. They can help you make a better case for the police officer to correct the errors in the report.
Compared to disputed details, factual errors are much easier to address. Like we said earlier, you can present documentation to demonstrate the errors in the current report. Police officers are also less likely to turn down your request to amend the report if you have supporting evidence.
Why Police Reports Are Important
Police reports can be incredibly valuable, and they matter in every case. The police report could even be the deciding document in some disputes.
Highlighted below are the different ways police reports can prove helpful:
- The Police Report Contains Important Details About The Accident – Facts like the location of the accident and the date and time when it happened are always in the police report. The report may also detail the weather when the accident occurred along with the road conditions.
- The Police Report Contains Contact Information – Contact details for the parties involved in the case are in the police report. You will even find the contact information for witnesses in there.
- The Police Report Details Damage Resulting from the Accident – The police report details any damage to the vehicles or properties involved in the incident.
- The Police Report Provides Pictures of the Accident Scene – Photos of the accident scene cannot provide a full accounting of what happened, but they will certainly help.
- The Police Report Features Witness Statements – Any statements provided by the parties involved and the witnesses at the accident are in the report. Those statements help make up the narrative section of the report, per Legal Beagle.
- The Police Report Highlights Any Violations Committed –If anyone violated laws in the lead-up to the accident, expect them to be in the police report.
- The Police Report Includes Insight from Law Enforcement – The police officer handling the cause will often include their input in the report. In there, they may offer their assessment of the accident scene and point to a probable cause.
- Insurance Companies Can Reference The Police Report – Police reports may be used by insurance companies to deny claims. The insurance company for your case will have a harder time denying your claims if the report is factual and in your favor.
Get the Answers You Need from Breakstone, White & Gluck
A police report can be a game-changer in any given case. It should be accurate to shed light on an incident. An accurate police report can better help ensure that you receive justice. Even with errors, only the most experienced and seasoned lawyers can overcome the inaccuracies and bring the truth to light in your case.
You cannot afford to have an inaccurate police report undermine your case. If that happens, you could potentially miss out on the compensation that will help pay for your medical bills, damage to your property, and any pain and suffering stemming from the accident. In a worst-case scenario, you may even find yourself blamed for the accident even though you did nothing wrong.
We at Breakstone, White & Gluck will not allow that to happen. Let us know if you need help amending an inaccurate police report. If disputes arise during the process, you can also count on us to fight for you.
Contact us today if you need assistance correcting inaccurate police reports or any other legal matters. We are always ready to help. Do not hesitate to reach out and secure the expert legal assistance you need.