About 3 million Americans sustain non-fatal injuries in car accidents each year. If you’re one of these individuals or were lucky enough to escape from a crash unscathed, you will need to deal with post-accident legal issues pertaining to the incident.
One of the first things that will happen after an auto accident will be the determination of fault. This is usually decided by analyzing Tennessee police reports for information about what happened and what was said at the scene of the accident. Read on to learn some things that claims adjusters look for when analyzing these reports so that you can better prepare for your case.
1. Basic Information About the Crash
The first thing that claims adjusters will look into is basic information about the car crash. This information includes the date and time of the collision as well as the location at which it took place. They also will likely look at the types of cars involved, if each driver had a valid driver’s license, and the insurance of both parties and what each of their plans covers.
This can help adjusters piece together the background of each driver. While this will not determine fault one way or the other, it provides claims adjusters with more information as to what happened.
If you want access to police reports in Tennessee before claims adjusters get them, you can obtain a copy in a few different ways. First, you can call the traffic division of your local police station and pay the administrative fee (which is usually around $15-20). You also can get a free report by asking the claims representative of your own insurance company in some situations.
2. Admissions of Fault in Tennessee Police Reports
Once claims adjusters learn more about the accident, the next order of business will be to try determining fault. This job is made much easier for them if a party admits fault at the site of a crash. This does not happen often, but some people own up to their wrongdoing while on the road in situations like rear-ending. If it would be clear to authorities what happened, fault can easily be determined.
However, admissions of fault don’t always come in the form of someone saying explicitly that they caused the accident. It sometimes comes in the form of admitting that they made an illegal maneuver while driving. If someone admits that they turned left in front of someone, for example, this can be considered an admission of fault.
3. Identifying Information for Involved Parties and Witnesses
In most cases, people do not admit their wrongdoing. This will lead the claims adjuster to analyze identifying information about both drivers. Their names, addresses, phone numbers, and past vehicle history will be looked into so that claims adjusters can see whether or not they have been involved in a similar incident before.
Adjusters can’t say that a driver that had fault in an illegal-lane use accident before necessarily was at fault for this one. This is simply not true. However, it can help them develop an opinion as to the cause of a collision when all other factors are equal.
Note that an opinion is different from a fact. It cannot be used in court as a reason to issue citations or other penalties. However, it provides adjusters with a basis as to what they should look into in the remaining investigation.
4. Location of the Crash and Vehicle Damage
One of the most important factors in determining fault is the analysis of accident reconstruction diagrams. Oftentimes the investigating officer will draw a diagram of how the wreck occurred, or at least the final resting place of the vehicles involved. Sometimes, if there are conflicting accounts of what happened by the different drivers, then more than one diagram will be done for reference. Claims’ adjusters look at these diagrams to piece together what happened at the time of the incident.
They also compare this diagram to the damage done to vehicles relative to the diagrams. If one diagram shows one car hitting the other on the left side but the damage was incurred on the right of the other vehicle, this is evidence that the other party’s diagram is more likely the correct one. This is a very simple example, but it illustrates the point: adjusters look to see which diagram matches up with empirical photographic evidence.
It’s also at this step that adjusters tend to look at the site of the accident. If there was an obstruction on one side of the road, they may be able to prove that the person in the lane of the obstruction swerved into the other lane to avoid it.
The bottom line is that this step in analyzing police reports is an analysis of the evidence presented at the site of the crash. Often, this is what proves that one party is more likely to be at fault.
5. Citations Received by Involved Parties
Often, citations will be issued on the site of a car accident. Some of these are more minor: a party has driven through a stop sign, someone was distracted while driving, or someone was following too closely or failed to yield the right-of-way. Others will be more major infractions such as DUI charges or citations for texting while driving.
In some cases when only one party has been ticketed, determining fault will be easy. However, in many cases, both parties will have received citations. These can be analyzed to piece together what happened during the crash.
Get in Touch With Tennessee’s Top PI Firm
While planning and preparing for a personal injury lawsuit can be a challenge, having the right lawyer handle your case can make it much easier. Contact us for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. Our attorneys will look at Tennessee police reports and assist you with any legal claims that you may have and help you to construct an expert case.