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Report: states need to be more thorough in gathering information about crashes

In any personal injury case, gathering as much and as accurate information as possible about the accident is important for a couple reasons. For one thing, it allows accident victims to get a sense of what specific factors or causes are behind the accident and to determine who may be responsible for causing or contributing to the accident. Thorough and accurate information about a crash also helps accident victims determine the extent to which each party contributed to the accident for purposes of comparative liability.

When a crash occurs, law enforcement is largely responsible for gathering detailed and accurate information about a crash. Unfortunately, the information law enforcement gathers is not always accurate, nor is it necessarily as detailed as it could be. 

According to a recent report by the nonprofit advocacy group National Safety Council, crash report forms in many states omit entries for various factors that would be desirable to know about crashes, both for improving highway safety and for seeking compensation against liable parties. The report listed a total of 23 crash factors, and looked at whether crash report forms used by law enforcement included these factors.

Common factors that states don’t adequately account for include driver distraction, level of intoxication, drowsiness, and drug use. New York is among a group of states which don’t adequately track low levels of alcohol impairment, despite the fact that low-level intoxication results in a fair number of accidents.

The report made a number of recommendations for states to improve how they investigate motor vehicle accidents. In our next post, we’ll look at some of these recommendations, and the importance of working with an experienced attorney to maximize the information gathered in the discovery phase of motor vehicle accident litigation.

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