If you are injured in an auto accident, you are entitled to collect monetary damages from a personal injury lawsuit if you can demonstrate that the accident was caused by someone else. You can identify who is to blame by presenting evidence which indicates the liability of the at-fault driver. One key piece of evidence that is often used in personal injury cases is the official police report about the accident.That’s why a recent study reported in the Chicago Tribune is so disturbing. An examination of state records reveals that the Chicago Police Department has been filing inaccurate accident reports for quite some time.The study, which was originally commissioned by the city of Chicago (but then attempted to be hidden from public scrutiny), shows that:
- Deaths from auto accidents in the city were grossly underreported.
- The number of angle wrecks, like those which occur when someone runs a red light, was substantially inflated.
- But perhaps the most damning statistic is that according to Illinois Department of Transportation studies, 70% of all traffic reports filled out by Chicago Police were missing key information – and 30% contained factual errors.
Many of these errors were found in the parts of the reports which called for listing the accident’s type, primary cause, and resulting injuries – three pieces of data that are often key parts of any personal injury lawsuit.Realistically, the chances of your lawsuit being adversely affected by police errors on an accident report is fairly small. However, it does illustrate the need for you to take additional steps if you have been involved in an accident, instead of simply relying on the police report (especially in Chicago). If you do not require immediate medical attention, try to take photos or video footage of the crash scene with your cell phone camera or other image recording device. Also, be sure and get the names and accounts of witnesses who saw what happened. Doing this can help ensure that if an error does arise in the official police report, then you might be able to identify it.This is also another good reason to contact a qualified auto accident attorney as soon as possible. He or she will have the resources and investigative knowledge which can help prove that a police report is in error. Otherwise, it may be difficult to show a jury that you are right and the police report is wrong – and it could affect the outcome of your lawsuit.
If you would like to learn how to protect yourself in the event of an auto accident, download our free book about Illinois Accident Law.