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Any time there is a police report involving a car accident in Illinois, it will list the vehicles involved. Most crashes involve two cars and they list one car as vehicle one and the other as vehicle two. That might not seem relevant, but it’s quite often the most important part of any car accident lawsuit in Illinois.
On these reports, vehicle one is typically listing the person who the police officer on the scene believes is at fault. That usually involves them getting a ticket, but doesn’t have to. There will also be a written statement as to what happened and what citations were given, but generally speaking, if you are listed as vehicle two, you’ll have a right to sue the other person. And if you are listed as vehicle one, the officer is saying it was your fault.
Of course in most cases the police officers don’t directly witness these accidents and make their reports based on the statements of the parties. And for many of them, they don’t really care if they get it right or not. It’s paperwork and cops don’t love paperwork. So if you get hit by someone and end up getting taken away by ambulance, it’s not unusual for the crash scene officer to just take the word of the person that ran in to you. If that person lies, you’ll be listed at fault if you didn’t get a chance to tell your side of the story.
I’m noticing these types of errors more and more recently. In one case, a young kid ran a stop sign and slammed in to a woman’s vehicle who had the right away. She was taken away from the scene in an ambulance with severe injuries. The young kid lied about where he was coming from and she ended up with the ticket. Fortunately video proved that she wasn’t at fault.
The most important thing to remember is that while being listed at fault on the police report is a hurdle, it’s not one that you can’t overcome. An experienced car accident attorney will investigate the damage on your car, seek out witness statements, search for video recordings, etc. If the damage to your vehicle is at your back bumper, that doesn’t make your case a slam dunk, but can go a long way toward showing that what you are saying happened is the truth. In some cases we can get police officers to amend their reports.
This of course can be very frustrating when you know you weren’t at fault. The opposing insurance company not only will use it as a reason to deny you payment, but will also go after you. My advice is to not panic. Just get an attorney in your corner who knows what they are doing and has a track record of success to prove it. If you would like a referral to lawyer who handles car accident injury cases, please contact us any time.