Understanding Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash Report Codes
The most prominent aspect of any motor vehicle accident is the damage and injuries that it causes. It’s no surprise, then, that the Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash Report includes a special section dedicated to “Damage to Vehicle.” (There’s also a separate section for injuries.) And you have a legal right to get this report and understand what it says.
Damage to vehicle is a relatively straightforward section. On its own, it doesn’t go into much detail; it simply notes how severe the damage was and whether any fire was present. But, officers typically use numbered codes to mark down this information, which can be confusing. Below, we’ll decipher the codes and give some perspective on why this section of the crash report is so important.
Understanding the “Damage to Vehicle” Code on the Crash Report
Here are the codes an officer may use for the Damage to Vehicle section:
- None. (For example, the vehicle was forced off the road and didn’t suffer any damage, or was barely “tapped” and there is no visible damage. This is also common when a vehicle hits someone on foot or on a bicycle.)
- Slight. This is often used in “fender benders” where the only damage is a single dent in the bumper or a single scratch.
- Extensive. When this code is used, it’s likely that the car is totaled, although that is a separate determination made by the insurance company.
- Fire Present
This last one, fire present, is especially important as fire tends to radically change the type of damage to the car. In fact, fire is just about the only kind of damage a car is likely to suffer that isn’t caused by the actual moment of impact. And in many cases, fire will make it harder to assess the direction and severity of the impact.
In addition to the code, the officer may write in comments giving more detail on what happened.
Why is the damage to the vehicle important?
Most police officers are not forensic experts, and the damage to vehicle code is always going to be, to some extent, a subjective assessment. However, it is important to your car accident claim — it can lend support to, or undermine, how severe you’re saying your damages are. It can also help justify a claim of severe injuries, if the insurance company is questioning them.
Using Damage to Vehicle in Your Car Accident Case
Any good car accident lawyer knows that the crash report is a central document in an injury claim. In many cases, it will provide the only objective eyewitness assessment of what happened. As such, it’s important to get it in front of a lawyer as early in the process as possible — and before you agree to anything from the insurance company.
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