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Semirog Law Firm, pllc is a personal injury and auto accidents law firm located in Charlotte and Matthews, North Carolina.   We are committed to providing quality legal services in a dedicated and cost-effective manner to all members of our community, regardless of race, gender, or national origin.

We have handled complicated litigation in the areas of personal injury, car wrecks, truck accidents, family and business law.  In addition, we have experience in real estate law and short-sale negotiations.

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Police Reports Decoded

Serge Semirog

Today we are going to look at Police Reports for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and explain how to read them.  

The police report displayed here was taken from public domain and will be used for educational purposes only.  All information used to identify the parties involved has been redacted so as to ensure the privacy of the individuals.

These documents can fit a lot of information in the form of numbers in the margins, so pay particular attention to these details on the report.   An in-depth detailed list of codes can be found here, and a blank report can be found here

Let's set the scene.   The numbers refer to the sections from which the information was taken: 

Two cars are driving down I-485 in a fairly rural (1) part of Charlotte, NC around 9:33 pm.  The road is dry (3) and the weather is clear (4).  Unfortunately, night time has already set and the road is not very well lit (7).  Mr. Johnson is in his Toyota by himself while Ms. Smith is driving a Volkswagen with two other passengers, females, one Caucasian and one Hispanic (21-26).  

Ms. Smith reduces her speed to switch into the right lane (45, 49. 84,85) while Mr. Johnson continues at a speed of 70 mph (51).  Realizing he is unable to pass properly, he reduces his speed to 50 mph when he sideswipes Ms. Smith who is traveling at approximately 40 mph (10, 14, 52).  

The police report suggests that only the first driver, Mr. Johnson, contributed to the accident (14-19) and caused about $ 700 in damages (44) to Ms. Smith's Volkswagen.  Luckily, none of the passengers of either vehicle appear to be injured (32).  

That being said, while a police officer may be able to tell if a person is immediately physically handicapped due to the accident, he or she can not read the underlying physical and mental trauma which may require immediate medical attention.  What we can tell is that both parties declined Emergency Medical Services (46) and neither vehicle needed to be towed (Vehicle Towed by:), but it is unknown if anyone received medical attention afterwards. 

This is just a sample of the information that a police report contains.   It can answer questions such as: Did everyone wear a seatbelt (27)?  How many lanes did the road have (75)?  Did weather or road conditions contribute to the accident (6, 12-13)?  Did the airbags deploy in either vehicle (28)?  Is either driver under any particular restrictions (36)?  Was anyone impaired at the time of the accident (35, 37-39)?  A police report can save important details while memories deteriorate over time, especially as time is needed to recover and settle with insurance companies.

While a police report is a very good source of information, the majority is here-say or estimation and crucial information can be left out.  Each driver will have a different idea of what happened and the police report takes both into account and includes the opinion of the patrol officer. In the end, the purpose of a police report is to record information for the DMV so that everyone can avoid such accidents in the future. 

By Serge SemirogGoogle +