A police report is a written account of a police officer’s observations. If the police are called to the scene of a car accident, they will generally—but not always—write a police report.
Though police are trained to fairly investigate motor vehicle accidents and prepare police reports, they’re also human and mistakes sometimes happen.
So what happens if they get it wrong? Can you have the police report changed?
Why police reports are important
Police reports can contain a ton of information, including:
- Approximate date, time, and location of the accident
- Name and contact information of the parties involved
- Name and contact information of any witnesses to the accident
- Location of any damage to the vehicles involved
- The weather, road, and lighting conditions at the scene
- A diagram of the accident
- Photographs of the scene
- Statements from the parties and witnesses
- Citations and/or violations of law
- The opinion of the officer as to the cause of the accident
Insurance companies put a lot of stock in police reports. Not only are police officers seen as credible, impartial observers, but police reports are generally written within a few days of the accident based on notes taken by the officer at the scene of the accident.
As a result, police reports represent a fresh recollection of the important events, as opposed to the testimony of the parties and witnesses, which often comes weeks, months, or even years later.
Can I change the information in a police report?
In general, police reports can be amended. Whether or not a police officer is willing to amend a police report, however, depends a lot on what type of information they’re being asked to change:
- Factual errors. Police officers are generally willing to change factual errors that can be easily verified. For example, if the police report states the wrong date of the accident or misspells the name of one of the parties, a correction may be possible.
- Disputed information. Disputed information, such as the cause of the accident or a description of the driver’s behavior following the accident, are much less likely to be changed.
Advice for requesting a police report change
When asking a police officer to amend their accident report, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be polite. You have a much better chance of getting a police officer to change a police report if you treat the officer with kindness and respect.
- Provide documentation. Police officers are reluctant to change information based on telephone calls or emails from strangers. To increase your chances of having a police report changed, be ready to provide evidence supporting the requested change.
- Act quickly. Unfortunately, police officers respond to and write reports for hundreds of car accidents every year. You’ll stand a better chance of having your police report changed (or getting the officer to return your calls for that matter) if you contact the officer soon after the accident.
How to improve the accuracy of your police report
A lot’s going on after a car accident and your focus probably isn’t necessarily on the responding officer and whatever notes they’re jotting down in their notepad. However, once your safe, it’s important to approach the officer and provide them with as much detailed information as possible so the officer can include it in their report.
If there is a specific piece of information you believe should be in the report (perhaps your child in the car is experiencing back pain because of the accident), it’s okay to politely ask the officer to add it to the report. Similarly, if there’s something you think the officer missed (such as a witness standing off to the side or an open beer bottle the at-fault driver tossed into the woods), you should bring it to the officer’s attention and ask that it be added to the report. However, it’s important to avoid being pushy or arguing with the officer.
The bottom line is that it’s much easier to contribute to the police report while it’s being written than it is to change what the report says down the road.
I’m just saying someone I know was in a car accident in which the other person in the vehicle in front of my friend vehicles was driving through the green light and just stop suddenly on my friend because they didn’t know which way to turn but there was another vehicle behind my friend he couldn’t stop if the vehicle behind him would run in my friend vehicle back and the vehicle in front tell my friend that their insurance was left at their home and give the police wrong information about the accident now my friend is trying to get police report amend
Ian Pisarcik says
Sorry this happened to you. Thanks for the comment.
Not concerning a car accident it’s in a sock is our neighbor came over here and assaulted us one please agency handle that and then the sheriffs took over for some reason they have their address as where the assault happened and they’re doing 50-50 responsibility and unfortunately for them we have cameras around the whole entire house documenting the whole thing it was not 50-50 he came over here and assaulted us they only looked at one angle they said they couldn’t see it I had a whole Nother angle and it’s
Melissa Gold says
Hi, Christina. It sounds like there are several sides to this story, but I’m glad to hear that you have law enforcement involved. Video surveillance footage can be excellent as evidence, so it’s a good idea to let law enforcement know that there are cameras on the property. Best of luck dealing with this situation. I hope that you’re able to stay safe and that the matter is resolved.
Jeanette Henderson says
Yes Mr and my friend had just left church. And the light told us to walk after we began to walk a truck came from another way and decide to turn. I was carrying a wheel basket with come clothes in it and was hit from the side. Truck kept going and hit my friend.knock her in the air. When the amberlance came they took my friend to er.sense the hospital was 3 minutes away I walked. And got check out. The police aske me what happens. I told her we both got hit by the truck but she was the one who got knock up in the air. When the report was written I was not included in the report at all. I went to the police department talk to the police and she change the report and gave me a copy to give to my lawyer. I found out later that the report was not change at all
Ian Pisarcik says
Thanks for the comment, Jeanette. Hopefully, in this situation, your lawyer was able to talk to the police officer and either get him to testify to the fact that you were also struck by the truck.
My name is Catherine Bajrami, I was slapped in the face by my neighbor, I called the police, and they just wanted to let it go. I said no, I want her arrested for assault, I’m disabled. So they arrested both of us. I never touched this person, I did the right thing. I read the police report yesterday, and it says , the neighbor pushed me , and I slapped her. All untrue, the neighbor slapped me in the face, this was over a parking dispute. Me, and the neighbor apologized to each other the next day at home. So much more happened at the police station, but this one is about the police report, Can I get the report fixed to state the right information. I want to be a foster mom , this report may affect this..
I was in an accident on May 26th and i just noted that on the report it stated observation of drinking in which i don’t drink the other driver was at fault so when the officer walked up to my car I was clearly upset and crying and I was driven to the hospital in an ambulance but I wasn’t given a breathalyzer on the scene or hospital but he stated this was his observation how can I get this amended
Ian Pisarcik says
You can contact the officer whose name is listed on the police report and ask that they amend the report. However, the police report is the officer’s opinion and therefore the officer doesn’t have to change the report.
This information is helpful, I just received my accident report, after waiting 3 weeks. If has several inaccuracies- including the direction I was traveling, and they stated no one was hurt, but an ambulance came for me and inspected me on scene. I have several witnesses, I have a time stamp from a salon down the road from which I was traveling home, literally 4 min away. I am nervous to call and speak with the officer. I don’t want to be accusatory, but I need these details corrected….
Ian Pisarcik says
You can certainly request that the officer change the police report. However, you should also be aware that the officer has no obligation to change the police report. Fortunately, police reports are not irrefutable under the law. In other words, judges and juries don’t have to agree with the conclusions made in a police report (in fact, police reports are rarely admissible in court). Rather, you can present your own evidence to insurance companies, judges, and juries.
Vell Willis says
I was in a accident a year ago. The semitrucker was put at fault on original report. The police officer changed the report (put me at fault) and then got a new job at another county as a state trooper. The original office stated they could not change it and to contact him. He never responded from his new job to why he changed report. I stated the semi trucker was driving crazy and made a UTurn and hit me. Trucker also drove maybe 100 yards away from scene of accident. He changed it because he claims that is unlikely because i should have been behind the truck at stop sign. The police diagram is wrong also. I also said he may have been drunk or etc. Driver was not tested cause he was put at fault. No lawyer wants to take this case cause the change in the report.
Ian Pisarcik says
Unfortunately, a police officer does not have to change their report. What’s more, a police officer is highly unlikely to change their report unless they’re presented with additional evidence.
Fortunately, police reports are not binding on liability and, in most cases, aren’t admissible in court. With that being said, a lawyer (particularly those who work on a contingent-fee basis) may refuse to take your case if they don’t think there is enough evidence to support your version of events. The only thing you can really do is continue to seek out attorneys until you find one willing to represent you. You might consider contacting the legal clinic at your local law school. Sometimes these clinics take on cases that attorneys in the field are unwilling to take on.
My boyfriend was in a accident in my car I made the police report and they have me as the driver but I wasn’t I am the owner but the accident info is correct just the party’s involved arent
Ian Pisarcik says
If you were not the driver, I would contact the police department and ask them to change the report.
Do officers have the right to change the words in a written statement given to them by the driver in a auto accident ? Is it legal to say that the drivers statement was as follows , when I know I did not write that ?
peter a. jones says
police investigating were still on coffee and doughnut break
Michael Potiez says
I was re-ended and police sided with the guy who hit me events. As I was driving a guy blew past me beyond the solid yellow line to my left as we both travels South. A minute later the lane opened up to become two lanes. I began moving up on the right to pass. The driver in the left lane moved over seeing I was about to pass and caused me to hop the curb and travel 30 ft before coming off. I started to slightly fishtail as I came off the curb back onto the road. I then applied my brakes and this guy must have been right on my ass because he hit me.
I called police and they came out where this guy told the officer “as the road separated into two lane I was behind him (me) who went into the right lane. I (HIM) went into the left lane traveling 35-45mph and proceeded to pass him (me). I then moved over into the right lane in front of him (me) when he sped up around me and into my lane then proceeded to slam on the brakes causing the accident.
TWO ISSUES WITH THIS STORY.
He says this was achieved in a total distance of 232 ft. Yet for one car to pass (his) as he claimed in his story takes roughly 245ft. In other qords it is impossible for all those moves to have been made by over 100ft.
Issue number 2, even though marks prove I went up onto the curb, they made no mention of it until the investigating officer asked him “At what point did he (me) go up onto the curb?” Feeding him the details to rearrange the details in the events of what took place.
I mentioned this to the officers and they still sided with his version of events. I wrote a formal written complaint, and they told me his “findings were appropriate.” Yet science says otherwise. Common sense says otherwise.
Police and their refusal to properly investigate cost me $600 a year more added to my insurance. I hate the police because they never think they are wrong even when you can prove it is impossible for the events to have occurred. POLICE MUST BE DEFUNDED OR CITIZENS MUST BE ABLE TO HAVE A WAY TO CORRECT THEIR FAULTY INVESTIGATIONS THROUGH A BOARD OTHER THAN ONE RAN BY POLICE. THIS IS NOT JUSTICE WHEN A GUY CAN RUN YOU OFF THE ROAD, LIE TO POLICE AND YOU HAVE CLEAR EVIDENCE YOUR VERSION OF EVENTS ARE TRUTH AND THE OTHER PARTY LIED, YET STILL END UP PAYING FOR THEIR MISTAKE! Until then, every American will lose in the end due to incompetence and too much pride.
Ryan Ham says
I forgot to Mention an extremely important detail to an officer I spoke to over the phone how do I get back in contact with him so can properly reassess my situation with this new detail in mind
I got my crash report and almost everything is wrong. I was hit from behind by a new black Yukon in the report it says I was hit by silver 03 Yukon and there was a passenger in his car report says no. Within minutes there were 5 sheriffs vehicles around us the report says nothing about this.. This happened in September 2020. Is there anything I can do at this point.
Ian Pisarcik says
You can ask the responding officer to change the police report. However, the report is unlikely to be changed unless you have strong evidence supporting the need to change report.
Keep in mind that crash reports are not determinative (and generally not admissible) in court, so the fact that the report is wrong may not hurt your case.
Not accident related but I find myself being charges with malicious acts! I was a legal guardian for the state (Michigan) and now stand accused of stealing from and taking advantage of my clients. The reports are wrote up to paint me in the worst shade possible and a lot of the basic information is incorrect. Locations, comments and other details and assumptions are all false! How can this be ‘expert witness testimony’ if most of it is inaccurate?
Ian Pisarcik says
I’m sorry this happened to you.
I’m not sure what reports you’re referring to, but keep in mind that police reports are not binding on the court and are rarely admissible in court. What’s more, in any court hearing, you’ll have an opportunity to respond to experts reports with your own experts.
caroline holliier says
I have an old police report that the officer has since retired. The CARFAX company ONLY relies on the police report NOT the insurance company information.. This proves that the damage to my car was in fact MINOR and only cost $641 to repair the bumper. I do not know what to do to get this removed from the CARFAX –they have said they will only accept an amended police report. I sent them all the information from the insurance claim including photos, estimates, and payout amount.
Adding my name on a car accident report is my lawyers job right?
Ian Pisarcik says
If you have a lawyer, I would talk to your lawyer about adding your name to the police report. With that being said, it’s not necessary that your lawyer add your name, as this is something a non-lawyer is permitted to do.
Joe Martinrezca says
My spouse and I had an argument. When I grabbed her phone I got a 1/4 inch scratch on my arm. I have picture so did the police. The report days I got a SUBSTANCUAL injury and that I said I had to fight her off. I never said that. There are other things I don’t agree to. She charged with battery! Already did affidavit. How do I amend the report in Georgia
Ian Pisarcik says
You can contact the responding officer and explain that you would like to amend the report. Before you contact the officer, write down the date of the incident and the changes you want to make. Keep in mind that the officer does not have to change the report. What’s more, officers rarely change a police report unless there is strong evidence to suggest the information in the report is incorrect.
I was involved in an accident that resulted in no injuries but caused significant damage to the front of my vehicle and the rear of the other. The trooper that wrote the report got everything backwards. He reported damage to the rear of my car and the front of the other, he reported our accounts (although similar) backwards etc. he basically filled the report out and then wrote the other drivers name in place of mine and mine his. I’ve tried to contact the office of the state patrol he works for as well as him but no one will do anything. Now the insurance companies are pointing the finger at me based on the report. What can I do?!
Donna Legal Issues says
Hum, all good information good thing I found this site, my accident just happen on 09/09/2021, once I got the police report, boy were there mistakes made wrong names, plus the fact nowhere in that report were our statements, plus the fact there were two police officers who arrived, one male who arrived 1st, was the one who took our statements the female officers came shortly after the male officers did, she was with the other vehicle and she is the only one who did this report, so now I will ask for an “Amended Report” since omissions in her report is missing along with wrong names and of course also missing witness thank God I have their names as well. Have already spoken with my insurance company and the other vehicles insurance company as well. And it is a good thing we got photos of the whole area. I just hope this officers does amend her report if not, can the police department be held accountable for misrepresentation of a legal document, since insurance companies do uses them if your statement of a police report is hearsay and is not admissible in court than why do insurance companies use them?
P. Oter says
I’ve never done meth in all my life. My ex told the police officer I not only did but had a history of it. Needless to say when I read it I was furious. I tried contacting the luitenant several times, went down in person, wrote him a letter. I asked him how his officer could state I had a history of a drug I never used and wheres the history?? No charges or dismissals, nothing. The police officer was rude even though I was the one who was beaten. He was a woman hater and proved it by writing lies on his report without even checking the facts.. Unfortunately in Utah police protect each other and there are many horror stories. I even talked to the city manager and he was supposed to get back with me and never did. Because they thought I was this meth addict, the prosecutor dropped his charges (which have nothing to do with being beaten again by this man) and I have him on a recording saying that my “meth abuse” had a lot to do with it. I have recordings of all of them and their failure to protect the victim and let the monster go free. Nothing happened and it’s a tragedy. Not only for me but for the women who will not be heard that get beaten and have a drug addiction. There is no justice or help for them. And that’s sad.
Melissa Gold says
Hi, P. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with so much. First, I’d like to make sure you are safe. If you are not safe, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). There are counselors and resources available to help you. I really appreciate your sharing your story with our readers. Yes, we do see injustices of all kinds every day, and I wish there was a solution but I don’t know what it is, unfortunately. However, if you need a lawyer you can also contact your state or local bar association (here’s how: https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/state-bar-association-directory.html) for low-cost assistance. Be well and stay safe.
Angela Snow says
I had a police say I was talking on the phone, careless driving, then rear ended a semi truck, and after that I sped up when you all know when you rear end something you slow down but I sped up jumped across 3 lanes flying through the air falling down a slight decline across a GA fence the across a field where a nice solid tree stopped me. So while I’m in the hospital still in shock and I had said I was on the phone talking about way earlier saying my sugar was dropping he put together the truck driver just said I hit him he said and threw the rest in my mouth when the truck driver hit me and then he came to the hospital gave me a paper where my totaled car was where I knew no one and a driving on phone careless driving and rear ended a semi ticket while getting x-rayed I was blessed with only a scratch but had to sleep in er waiting room on 11/27/21 in Adel GA I drove a black Chevy Trax no witnesses he said.
I stupidly allowed person to use .y rental car. Their car was towed in the meantime and even tho they were told for 2 days multiple times that it was going to happen and to come get the car, they didn’t and blamed me for the tow and refused to return the car. They came to my house to yell at me for it and then proceeded to take the car from there and it wasn’t returned for 2 months. I told the officer they took the car but I gave the wrong dates and I got charged with false police report. It’s all on camera, when I let them and when they actually stole it. What can I do? They need to be charged so the fees I had to pay Enterprise can be dropped. But, I’m afraid I will go to jail. They didn’t file the report but now the police are asking me to confirm some things on the report.and I am scared to get in trouble again.
So I got into a car accident with a city vehicle The sweetie vehicle made a left turn and I Was going straight I didn’t seem turning because there was a car in the intersection that was blocking my view But I had to ride away The officer that showed up to the scene told me that the witness had said that the light was yellow And on the police report he wrote that the witness had said that the lite was red But yet at the time of the accident he told me that the witness said that the light was yellow what should I do in this situation
I was involved in a accident Jan 2022. I was sitting at a red little over a minute with my left blinker on, then lights turned green on both sides of intersection and then I slowly let off breaks to where the white line in the road was between my 4 tires as I was yielding to on coming traffic, then boom I get hit while I’m yielding. I was in distraught the whole time I was there and afterwards. Officer asked what happened,I said, I was stopped and was hit, and I brought up the sign above the light for people that need to turn left,that they need to yield on green. 30 mins pass by he gives me a ticket for not yielding. I didn’t ask any questions of why I’m getting a ticket for something I didn’t do, although She hit me. There was no yelling or exchange of any words between her and I at all. I literally was in complete shock, which I have never been in my life. I had to have my friend that showed up to take pictures for me bc I couldn’t do it, I felt numb.
9-10 day’s later, I did the recorded statement for my insurance. We have the same insurance company. Told them what happened, and she told me that I need to amend the police report. I had no idea what that was and didn’t know that was available to someone that was in my situation.
I reached out to officer through text, that I need to amend the report that he wrote.he said, It depends, if it hasn’t been sent to DPS already. What change needs to be made? I said, ok, & that however it came out, obviously wasn’t correct, perhaps a misunderstanding, not really sure, but I definitely wasn’t in the wrong. I need to change that you said.. I was “traveling” to turn left and I failed to yield on green light.
& I said, I was at a dead stop already at the red light at a complete stop, so I wasn’t traveling at all and report said I was going 35 mph? Incorrect…
That’s what I need to have amend on report.
I went to court yesterday, can pled no contest so it wouldn’t be on my driving record, although I’m not at fault. I can’t afford an attorney. Wish I could.
Deborah Lee Geffert says
My car was smashed, totally in July of 20
I’ve been given the run around for long enough. I was injured but that doesn’t seem to matter.
Driver was intoxicated. And I can’t seem to get proper representation for this life altering experience
I just heard from the State Police station that they didn’t even do an accident report.
Not did they arrest the drunken driver that hit me.
What am I supposed to do now? I have no money for another car.
And my injuries are horrible and so very very painful
Please help me
Colleen Dudash says
My accident happened on April25th 2019 in the city of Kirtland Ohio. I was driving home from work and was stopped at a red light with 2 white cars ahead of me and 1 car turning left at green arrow. My car was parked behind the do not block sign so I had another full car length or so in front of me. My light turned green however the 2 white cars didn’t move. I stayed put and started to count 101, 1002 , 103 , 1004 , 1005..Bam I got crushed into the car ahead.of.me..My body slammed left into my door..the crushing continued and didn’t let up. Finally it was.quite. The car behind me was.a.Kia Sorento beige in color. No one in the window behind me..she was on the floor. She popped up and mouth I’m sorry. The police came and would.not.talk with me. Ambulance took me to Hillcrest Hospital. After my discharge I went to the Kirtland Poli e station to pick.up my car keys. They gave me a speeding ticket and.said.I caused the accident. Couldn’t believe this..I sat down and wrotea statement. The only person who did. Everything was incorrect on the crash report..wrong name of person who caused this accident, wrong make and model of car. Wrong serial number wrong on too many areas including speed of my vehicle which should.have been 0. New Chief McCallister said he would look into this and call.me.back later on Wednesday..never called back. The other Chief.of Kirtland got let go because of corruption. Hopefully they can support me with a supplemental report. This has caused me and my family too much stress.
I had an officer make false/misleading and bias statements on a general incident report; some of which are damaging to my character. I assume this was in (childish) retaliation to my going above his head to request a report be written when he refused. What is the best course of action to have this amended? (Note: I have video documentation that confirms his statement to be false.)
Melissa Gold says
Hello, there. It’s possible to request amendments to a police report, but they are usually only accepted if there’s a factual inaccuracy. A police report is intended to present the facts of an accident or incident — if it’s a car accident, for example, it would include information like the positions of the car(s) involved, conditions of the drivers, and other factors that could have affected how the accident happened. If there is information that is factually false, you could go to the police station and request a change. If you can’t reach satisfaction that way, you can contact a lawyer (https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law-firms/) for additional guidance on how to proceed.