Right after you have been in a crash caused by someone else, one of the first things you are going to need to do at some point is to obtain the Crash Report. In Tennessee, the official title is the “Tennessee Electronic Traffic Crash Report.” These reports are usually ready 5-7 working days after your crash and can be most easily ordered online on the Tennessee Department of Safety website.
Once you get the report, you will find it is fairly straightforward. But what information is most important? What should you check to make sure the information is correct? What if something on the report is wrong?
We will answer these questions below. First, I want to share with you what the claims adjuster in your case is looking for as they are investigating your claim. I say “investigating” with reserve, as most of them are searching for any reason to deny or cut the value of your claim. Below are the top 3 things they are looking for when they first lay eyes on the police report.
1. Who Received Citations in the Wreck??
Was it you, or their own insured who was cited? What was the citation for? If it was a citation against YOU for a non-moving violation, such as driving on an expired/suspended license, then that has absolutely nothing to do with the cause of the wreck. However, some adjusters will try to use that against you if that was the case in your wreck. If their insured is cited, then they will move to the next area of concern.
2. Narrative & Diagram on the Last Page
The adjuster will quickly skim the report and jump to the very last page of the police report where the investigating officer writes out what happened. Most officers do a great job. They will write what each driver says happened, list each and every witness and state what the witness saw, and record phone numbers accurately. This is not always the case however. Sometimes the officer will get Vehicle #1 and #2 (or more) confused. When that happens, chaos will ensue. Even though it is easy to figure out, a police report reversing the parties will give the insurance adjuster grounds for delaying payment of your claim at the very least. They will take forever on getting your car damage paid for. Worse, they will tell you they cannot make a decision on liability and you need to go through your own carrier. If you have collision coverage, that is certainly an option, but you will have to fight like hell for a rental car if you did not have rental coverage. Or you will have to pay for the car rental out of your pocket. Either way, their delay is costing you money. When they delay, you pay.
3. Did You Complain of Any Pain at the Scene?
No one wants to be a whiner. As a man, I am a tough guy…. Right? I can take a crash “like a man.” Well, that bravado hurts your case if you were hurt and you try to sugar coat it. When your report says “no suspected injury” then the adjuster thinks that you were not injured. They don’t believe (like every juror I have tried a case in front of) that pains can come up several hours, days, or even weeks later. But by golly, you were okay at the scene, so you must have gotten hurt somewhere else after this wreck if you didn’t complain of pain at the scene (so says the claims adjuster).
The next couple of things adjusters look at are the witnesses, if any, identified on the police report. They want to call them to see if they can get any good information that will hurt your case. They want to know if you were walking around at the scene of the wreck; were you acting normal; did you say that you were “okay” at the scene? All of these things are looked into to see if they can use them against you.
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