How Do I Read the Report from My Vancouver, Washington Car Accident?

In the event of a car accident in Washington State, law enforcement will generate a Police Traffic Collision Report, also referred to as an accident report. This report will contain the pertinent information to the incident that may prove critical if you are filing a claim for damages.

The accident report is filed by the responding officer and should include details regarding the accident’s location, the individuals involved and any injuries sustained in the accident. It may also contain information that could establish the other driver’s negligence, such as whether they received a citation for any traffic violations or criminal charges related to the incident, such as DUI, texting while driving, or speeding.

If you have been in a traffic accident in Vancouver you can request your accident report, but understanding its contents can be confusing if you have never examined one before. Here is a breakdown of each section of the Washington State Accident Report, broken down section by section:

How to read the top of page 1 in a Washington State accident report

Firstly, the term “unit” is used to describe a vehicle of any type, a pedestrian or the owner of property damaged in the accident.

The top of page 1, from left to right, will indicate the type of roadway and accident type boxes, followed by case and local agency information. Additionally, the top section of Part A specifies the total number of units involved.

The next line down will indicate the time, date and location of the accident. Washington State uses assigned numbers for counties and cities instead of names, with “IN/OF” indicating whether the accident occurred inside or outside city limits. Understanding the information provided in the top section of Part A is essential for comprehending the remainder of the accident report.

How do I read Unit 01 of a Washington State accident report?

When examining a Washington State accident report, Unit 01 refers to the first vehicle involved in the car accident. The information provided in the top-most section includes the type of unit involved and whether the “Damage Threshold” is over $1,000.

It is important to remember that Unit 01 must be a motor vehicle or pedalcycle, but not necessarily the vehicle at fault.

The next line down will provide the name, address and contact information for the vehicle operator and if unknown, “Unknown” should be written in the last name field, particularly in hit-and-run incidents. License information, including CDL information for commercial vehicles, is included in this section.

Line 10 is for a specific situation where an on-duty law enforcement officer or firefighter is involved in the accident, in which case the “On Duty” checkbox is used. Additionally, the restraint code is used to indicate whether seat belts were used, which is critical information in a personal injury case.

The Helmet Use code is used for motorcycles, bicycles and other similar vehicles to indicate whether helmets were used. The Injury Coding section describes the severity and nature of the injury, while lines 11 through 15 includes license plate, registration and contact information for the registered owner and insurance information if applicable.

Lastly, a diagram is provided to show where the vehicle was damaged, which is essential information to understand the sequence of events leading up to the accident.

How do I read Unit 02 of a Washington State accident report?

For Unit 02, unlike Unit 01, this can be a vehicle of any type, a pedestrian or a piece of property that was involved in an accident with Unit 01.

The information provided for Unit 02 is identical to Unit 01, although not all information may be relevant depending on the type of unit involved. For example, if Unit 02 is a pedestrian or a piece of property, the license plate number will be left blank.

The officer who responded to the accident will print their name and badge number at the bottom of Unit 02.

How do I decipher Part B of a Washington State accident report?

Part B of a Washington State accident report contains information about passengers and witnesses involved in the accident. While all accidents will use at least one Part B, some may use more than one. The report number on Part B should match the pre-printed number on Part A. If an officer needs to correct information from a previous page, they will check the Correction box at the top of the page.

Part B includes passenger and witness contact and demographic information, seating position, airbag use, restraint use (seat belts or child seats), helmet use, injury coding and helmet use. Additionally, a diagram is included in Part B that visually indicates what happened in the accident. The narrative section describes what happened in the accident and additional pages may be used for a longer narrative.

Finally, the investigating officer signs and dates the bottom of Part B. The bottom of the report also describes when police were dispatched and when they arrived at the scene. Overall, Part B contains important information that can help determine who was at fault for the accident and can be crucial when filing a claim for compensation.

What do the code numbers stand for in a Washington State accident report?

Having looked at the entire accident report, let’s briefly discuss a supplementary document that will be necessary for your understanding as you read through the report. The Washington State Code Sheet 1/97 provides the codes and descriptions for factors involved in accidents, such as weather conditions and driver actions. It will help you, with the help of your experienced Vancouver, Washington personal injury lawyer, identify the accident’s cause and potential liability while standardizing reporting and facilitating safety research and policy development.

Below you will find the list of codes for reference in your Vancouver, Washington accident report:

If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident, it’s essential to obtain and understand your accident report. The experienced lawyers at Philbrook Law Office can assist you in obtaining and reading your report and then help you build a personal injury case. Our satisfied clients refer cases to us because of our impressive results and other personal injury lawyers even refer cases to us because we are adept at tackling tough cases. We’re dedicated, aggressive and always prepared to try your case before a jury. To schedule a free consultation at our Vancouver or Battle Ground, Washington offices, contact us today.