Following your car accident, you can retrieve the police report to learn more details about what happened. Since these reports are used for police record-keeping, they aren’t in layman’s terms. Fortunately, understanding Georgia’s motor vehicle crash report codes can be simple if you know what you’re looking for.
Components of a Crash Report in Georgia
Georgia police accident reports usually consist of four parts:
- First page
- Second page
These sections outline the details of your crash, all from the perspective of the police officer on the scene. The form can clear up what happened and offer information important in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
You can request a copy online through BuyCrash or ask for it directly from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The initial page contains basic information, including:
- Contact information
- Time and location
- Insurance info
- Vehicle make, model, and year
- Party suspected at fault
The latter can be the most important when filing a claim or suit. If the other party involved attempts to blame you, the officer’s ruling can help end any debate. This field is called “Susp At Fault” and is located near the top, under the “Unit #” field. Unit # indicates how the officer labeled each vehicle and will refer to them throughout the report.
This section features the officer’s account of the accident, including diagrams. You can sometimes find it on the back of the report. It could include witness statements, vehicle damage, and other pertinent observations.
While part of the official record, these are their personal impressions and, therefore, may not provide the whole story. The officer’s narrative holds authority and can be vital evidence in an insurance or legal dispute.
As the name suggests, this section contains supplementary material, such as:
- Continuing narrative
- More diagrams
- Citation information
- Additional occupants
Complex crashes will naturally have longer supplemental sections. This is not a bad thing; more detail could clarify complicated accidents.
Most Georgia motor vehicle crash report codes are found in this section. When understood, the overlay can offer a wealth of information for making sense of the accident’s factors. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) provides a full key for these codes, organized by category.
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Accident report codes cover:
- First/most harmful event
- Operator/pedestrian condition
- Operator contributing factors
- Vehicle contributing factors
- Roadway contributing factors
- Direction of travel
- Vehicle maneuver
- Non-motorist maneuver
- Vehicle information
- Damage information
- Traffic and road information
- Weather conditions
“First or most harmful event” identifies if the crash was caused by:
- A collision with a fixed object, like a guardrail or curb
- A collision with a non-fixed object, like another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a deer
- Another problem, like a fire
Driver Negligence Could Have Caused Your Accident
The operator or pedestrian condition indicates whether factors like drinking, drug use, fatigue, or emotional distress may have played a role. Similarly, the contributing factor sections note issues like:
- Improper turns
- Tire failures
- Steering failures
- Traffic congestion
The “direction of travel” and “maneuver” sections are as they sound, indicating how all parties were moving when the crash occurred.
Finally, the police crash report codes provide additional details the Georgia officer might have found relevant. These could include:
- The kind of road
- How it was paved
- If there were traffic signals or signs at the location
- If it was raining or clear
Why These Codes Matter
The report can be very specific about the circumstances of your crash, down to the light conditions. Digging through the overlay can unearth valuable evidence for your case and help our car accident lawyers answer questions like:
- What events led to the crash?
- Who acted in what way?
- Who are the at-fault parties?
- Did faulty equipment play a role?
- Could a municipality be held liable?
- Was the driver drowsy, distracted, or texting?
- Is this a case of aggressive driving or road rage?
- Did the airbags deploy?
- Did the officer note your injuries?
The answers can make a difference in an insurance claim or lawsuit. For instance, the officer might have made a note that the airbags deployed in an accident that might not have warranted it. This could indicate faulty airbags, leaving the manufacturer liable.
Likewise, having a written record of traffic infractions or careless behaviors, like texting while driving or speeding, helps demonstrate negligence. This can be the deciding factor in a personal injury case.
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Finding Other Important Information
Your crash report could contain material that helps determine your avenues for compensation. You can find hints in the fields establishing:
- Insurance coverage
- Owner information
In the chaos of the crash, you may have been unable to obtain the contact and insurance info from the other party. This could be especially true if you were severely injured or incapacitated. You were likely unable to coordinate an exchange of info at the scene in this case. Don’t worry – you can find names and contact numbers on the report.
Underneath the contact info of all parties is a grayed-out section on vehicle ownership information. This may or may not be the same as the driver’s information.
If the owner is different from the driver, the owner could be liable for your injuries and expenses. For example, if you are in an accident involving a teen driver, O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2 states that the parent could be responsible for any damage or injury their child causes. By contrast, if the driver used the car without permission, the driver could be liable (rather than the owner).
Our car accident attorneys can use the car ownership and insurance information sections to identify liability and pursue the correct parties for your damages.
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Kaine Law Can Help Decipher Your Crash Report
If you are unsure what to make of Georgia motor vehicle crash report codes, call our office today at (404) 214-2001. We can go over your report together during your free consultation. Our team can discuss your options for pursuing compensation and determine fault. When in doubt, ask!