If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you might have had to read the accident report that follows. This document can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the terminology.
The Harmonson Law Firm, with an office in Las Cruces, has years of experience in personal injury law and car accidents. We are committed to helping you understand and navigate everything that follows after an accident, including an accident report.
This blog will cover the aspects of an accident report and the following steps to take after you have received one.
When is a Car Accident Report Needed?
Depending on the amount of property damage and injury, you may be obligated to report a car accident to state or local police and submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
According to New Mexico Statutes Sections 66-7-206, 66-7-207, a driver involved in a car accident must report the crash if it results in:
- Bodily injury or death of any person
- Property damage to an apparent extent of $500
There are also certain circumstances where a police officer will also be obligated to prepare an accident report. In New Mexico, if a police officer responds to an accident and you as a motorist are legally required to report the accident, the police officer will also be obligated to report the accident to the Department of Transportation within 24 hours.
The first part of the accident report is the essential information. Details include:
- When and where the wreck occurred
- Any specific details (whether it occurred on a service road or highway entry ramp)
- Information about the drivers and their vehicles.
- Other particular circumstance information, including:
- involvement of a commercial vehicle
- pedestrian accidents
- rental or leased car
- hit and run
Some officer observations, like possible vision obstructions in the cars or on the roadway or suspected alcohol/drug use, may appear here, as well.
New Mexico is an At-Fault State
New Mexico is an at-fault state, which means that fault is used to determine whose insurance to pay for bills from the collision. Accident reports are crucial in determining who is at fault and the percentage at which the individuals involved are at fault.
Some of these determinations come from details listed in the accident report, including:
- Statements from the parties involved
- witness statements if any
- Vehicle examination
- Scene examination
- Opinions/Conclusions of the officers
- Other details dealing with the investigation
What if there’s a Mistake in the Police Report?
Once you obtain your accident report, it is crucial to look through and see if there are any mistakes. Officers at the scene will try to quickly gather their findings, but the chaos can sometimes lead to inaccurate police reports.
You need at least one of the following to contest the police report findings:
- Convincing evidence that contradicts the police report
- Witness statements that could outweigh the police report
- Knowledge that you are partially at fault but not fully
In some cases, voicing your disagreement could further an investigation into the accident that could lead to revised findings.
At the very least, it begins to create a record of your disagreement that can be beneficial down the line.
Contact Harmonson Law Firm
Harmonson Law Firm can help make sure that you obtain, understand, and, if need be, dispute your car accident report in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Contact us today at (575) 208-2572 to discuss your accident.