Inconsistent police report says I was at fault for the crash?

by Lalo
(San Diego, CA)

Last week, I was in a motorcycle accident. A driver abruptly changed lanes without signaling when I was already diagonal to (beside) his car. I was able to brake and avoid crashing into him, but the combination of the hard braking and the draft threw me off my bike. It slid and caught on fire, though I was thankfully not severely injured.

I was in the process of getting checked for head injuries by CHP, so I did not get to make a detailed statement. When I went to look at the report today, it said that I was driving at a safe speed and that everything was in my favor; however, the end of the report stated that I was at fault because I was driving at an UNSAFE speed. I don't understand the contradiction.

In addition, the driver is now claiming that he looked when he got over, but that I was severely speeding and that's why I crashed. He is also trying to claim that I hit him, which I absolutely did not.

Do you have any ideas as to what could cause this inconsistency in the police report? Also, would disputing the report with the CHP be enough, or will I have to file a claim against the driver? Is there anything else I can do to clear myself of liability for this? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Inconsistent police report says I was at fault for the crash?":

Singer (WI):

It appears the California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer investigating the collision simply made an error. Most police reports list the on-scene police officer. Contact him or her and discuss the report. Ask that the report be amended to show you were not driving at an unsafe speed.

The only reason to file claim against the driver is if you believe he or she was negligent and that negligence resulted in the crash. In any event, immediately contact your insurance company to report the accident.

Also contact the driver and ask for the name and contact information of his or her insurance company. With that information, contact the company and explain what happened. If the driver refuses to give you the information, you don't have a legal right to demand it.

Once you have accomplished the above, leave the rest to your insurance company. They won't pay the driver for your property damage unless the company believes you were at fault. At this point, your insurance company will likely not hold the claim against you and penalize you by raising your premiums.

Hopefully, your insurance will conclude you were not at fault. Then you can proceed against the driver to cover your property damage.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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