Errors in police report: what to do?
April 13, 2011 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Police report (auto accident) does not contain accurate information. The officer took details about my passenger, but the report says there were no passengers. The other driver was at fault. Why would the officer erroneously mark that there were no passengers, and should I report this error? If so, to whom would I report it?

The city where this happened has had several officers involved in crimes themselves, so I feel rather uncomfortable about the whole thing.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Relax. It's probably just a clerical mistake on a routine police report. The officer might have checked the wrong box on the form, written it down wrong in his notes, read it wrong from his notes, or he might have been confused as to who was in what car. Maybe he forgot to take any notes about the passengers so he put down what what he thought he remembered. Maybe he doesn't like writing reports and was trying to get home at the end of a long day. You might consider calling up your insurance company and let them know about the mistake. Or the other driver's insurance company if you're already in contact with a claims rep there. Or just call the police, but it sounds like you're hesitant to do that.

I wouldn't really worry about the corrupt officers. Most officers aren't corrupt, and even if a few are, how can a police officer possibly profit off this error? Are there any other errors of fact in the report?

You can always ignore it too, as it doesn't sound particularly important in any way. That would bug me though, so I'd probably want to at least tell my insurance company about the mistake for their records.
posted by zachlipton at 4:23 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our police department has an "auditor" who is a civilian who investigates complaints against the department. Don't know how common this is. I wouldn't start there, though, I'd start by calling the police's main nonemergency number.
posted by neuron at 4:23 PM on April 13, 2011

If the passenger in no way factors into the circumstances surrounding the accident, it's very unlikely to matter either way.
posted by astrochimp at 4:35 PM on April 13, 2011

If the passenger in no way factors into the circumstances surrounding the accident, it's very unlikely to matter either way.

Yeah, but what if it turns out that the passenger gets a stiff neck a week from now from this accident? You should definitely at very least let your insurance company know of the error, in case your passenger ultimately needs to make a claim against the other party for any reason.
posted by limeonaire at 4:39 PM on April 13, 2011

You should be able to file an additional statement to the report. Your insurance company or the police department can tell you where/how to file the paperwork.

And yes, you should do it just to make sure the record is correct, and especially in the event that injury or liability issues come up. Make sure that your insurance company knows about the amendment as well so they can get the updated accident report in your file.
posted by stefanie at 5:02 PM on April 13, 2011

Contact their non emergency number.

There was another thread recently on a similar subject where the officer showed little interest in amending the report because it would show he wasn't doing his job correctly (paraphrase). Either way, get that report fixed, you don't want your friend having no recourse down the road if he was hurt
posted by zombieApoc at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2011

Another reason to make sure you get that report fixed is that if somewhere down the road you need a witness to the accident for some reason, your passenger not being in police report is not going to look good and may allow the other party to claim they weren't there/didn't see anything.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 6:12 PM on April 13, 2011

I was once in a similar situation, only I was the passenger who was erroneously left off of the police report after an accident, and I was also injured (concussion, whiplash), so it was very important to get the report sorted out for insurance purposes.

So the driver called the police department and said, "Hey, excuse me, but I think there is an error on this report from this accident I was in. A passenger was actually in the car with me," and he described me. The police department secretary who had answered the phone then asked the officer who had been at the scene of the accident whether there had been a passenger who fit my description, and he remembered that I had in fact been there, and he told the department he'd made a mistake, and corrected his report.

I don't know whether it will turn out to be that easy in your case, but it might. You won't know until you call.
posted by BlueJae at 7:44 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

The passenger is your witness, as well as a potential victim. When dealing with official police reports, accuracy now can only assist you going forward. Your concern with respect to the criminality of the local police force is likely misplaced, as pretty much every police jurisdiction has these problems. You'll want to get that report amended to reflect the facts.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:31 PM on April 13, 2011

Just go down to the station and have it fixed. On my accident report the kid that hit me was accidentally listed as 27 instead of 17. No biggie, the other party fixed it and I got a new copy of the report.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:23 PM on April 13, 2011

If you're feeling anxious when you call the cops, just tell them your insurance company instructed you to make the call so the existence of the witness to the accident was reflected accurately in the police report, for possible future reference. This isn't a big deal for the police, but it might be for you. Definitely do it immediately.
posted by mediareport at 6:09 AM on April 14, 2011

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