We frequently see mistakes in police accident reports. Sometimes, the mistakes are minor, but many are serious mistakes that make it look like the motorcyclist is at fault when it was really the driver of the car who caused the accident.
Police reports must be reviewed by a supervisor, but some mistakes can’t possibly be caught by a supervisor, and other mistakes just aren’t noticed. The police report below shows a serious glaring mistake that wouldn’t be caught by a supervisor.
When the police accident report has a serious error that indicates the cause of the accident was the motorcyclist, we still want to represent the motorcyclist, but we’ll have a little more work to do.
This Police Report Is Obviously Wrong and Blames Our Client for Causing the Accident
In the police report below, the NYS Trooper got the accident scene diagram and the facts of how the accident happened completely wrong and backward. She blamed the motorcyclist for causing the accident by making an unsafe merge into the Parkway when it was obvious that the entrance lane does not merge.
Our client was riding a motorcycle and is listed on this police report as V1. The Trooper wrote: “V1 had just gotten onto Ocean Parkway and made an unsafe merge, colliding with V2”.
The New York State Trooper inserted a diagram into the police report showing the Parkway entrance. The diagram was obtained from the New York State Police accident report software.
The Trooper either selected the wrong type of Parkway entrance, or since this type of entrance is less common, it may not have been in the software. Whatever the reason, it is clearly the wrong diagram.
The diagram shows a common Parkway entrance with a merge lane. However, at this location, there is no merge because the entrance becomes its own 3rd lane. Prior to the entrance, the Parkway was two lanes, but at the entrance, the Parkway changes from two lanes to three lanes.
This Google Maps photo shows that there is no merge, and the entrance becomes a new lane. Consequently, the entrance doesn’t match the diagram, and the motorcycle did not merge into the Parkway lane.
The Trooper blamed the accident on our client’s motorcycle and properly merging onto the Parkway and into the lane of oncoming traffic, but this is simply wrong. This probably happened because the trooper was looking at the diagram instead of the accident scene when she wrote the report.
What Can You Do When the Police Report Is Wrong?
There are only two things you can do:
- You can try to speak to the police officer who wrote the report or to the police officer’s supervisor and explain why the police report is wrong. On rare occasions, they will amend the police report.
- More likely, the police will tell you to file an MV-104, which is the driver’s report. It looks like a police report and has a similar number (the police report is an MV-104A), but this report is written by you, not the police officer. Find out how to file an MV-104 accident report to correct your police report. If you were injured, we prefer to fill out the report for you.
What Can Your Attorney Do When the Police Report Is Wrong?
Depending on the error, there are different things that we can do. With the police report shown above, we can go out to the accident scene and take a video or get a screen capture on Google street view to show the insurance company claims representative that there is no merge and that the police accident report is obviously wrong.
If we have to file a lawsuit, we will take a deposition of the defendant driver, and when confronted with photographs of the Parkway entrance, we will likely be able to get the driver to admit that our motorcyclist did not merge into their lane.
What Does It Do to Your Accident Case If the Police Accident Report Is Wrong?
It just creates more work for us because it makes it more difficult to settle your case. The insurance company claims representatives love to go by the police report when it favors them. This sometimes means that we will have to file a lawsuit. But often, we are still able to settle the accident case for the entire insurance policy.
Fortunately for you, it won’t cost you any more money if we have to work more because our legal fee remains 1/3 no matter how much work we do.
What If I Really Caused the Accident the Police Report Is Not Wrong?
We frequently represent clients who were declined by other accident lawyers either because the police report shows the accident was caused by the client or because the police accident report makes it look like that.
For instance, we settled a claim for the entire $100,000 insurance policy where a police report showed our client ran a red light on his bicycle, and a witness saw him go through a red light.
We also settled a claim for the entire insurance policy where the police report indicated our client admitted he ran a stop sign on his motorcycle, and a witness saw him go through the stop sign.
Other articles you may want to see:
How to Get a Police Accident Report
How to file an MV-104 accident report to correct your police report
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel is well-known in New York for representing motorcyclists and created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.