If you plan on representing yourself or handing any portion of your personal injury claim, property damage, medical payments or diminished value claim, it is essential that you understand what has been reported about your accident. The crash report (DMV-349) is potentially one of the most valuable documents that you can obtain relating to your car accident claim. Understanding what is involved in making the report, who makes the report, and how it can be used is as important as understanding the information within the report.
In North Carolina, the crash report is called the DMV Accident Report form or DMV-349. DMV-349 is used by all North Carolina Law enforcement officers to report vehicle-related collisions to the Division of Motor Vehicles. A collision is reportable by North Carolina law if it meets one of the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
After your accident, one of the most important steps that you can take is to get your hands on a copy of your crash report. DMV-349 is a document that memorializes the accident. The police officer that responds to the scene will gather information, complete the form, and provide to the information to the DMV. The completed form will include information such as driver and passenger information, vehicles involved, insurance providers, contributing circumstances and a host of other factors.
A completed DMV-349 form contains a vast and sometimes overwhelming volume of information, ranging from documenting the road conditions to correctly identifying the owners of all the vehicles involved in the accident. Due to the significant amount of information contained within it may be easy to become confused and frustrated when trying to read your crash report. So, it is very important to take your time to understand the vehicle report.
It is very likely that your accident report will take anywhere from two days to two weeks for your DMV-349 to be completed and provided to the North Carolina DMV. It will all depend on the number of vehicles involved, the severity of the accident, and the presence of any intricate or unusual circumstances. Once your accident report is ready, there are a few ways to obtain a copy. You can appear in person to request your cash report, you may also request your cash report via mail.
Once you have obtained your DMV-349, please review it carefully. It is very important to assure that the accident report is as accurate as possible. Responding officers are often rushed and may make a mistake on the documentation because they are responsible for securing the scene, gathering information and resuming a normal flow of traffic. Additionally, responding officers have limited information to make their conclusions on due to unclear mechanics, lack of witnesses or the account of only one involved party. For the reasons provided, it is extremely important that the information on the DMV-349 is accurate because it is somewhat common for the accident report to misidentify vehicles, drivers, or misstate the mechanics of the accident.
One of the most important pieces of information that’s contained in the DMV-349 is the list of contributing circumstances. Contributing circumstances are those that the investigating officer determined to be involved in causing the accident (it is possible that there are several listed in the report). These contributing circumstances in a nutshell are the officer’s determination or opinions as to what actions a particular driver took, or failed to take, that contributed to the crash. Since these circumstances are so important, it is imperative that you review your accident report to assure that what happened in the accident is properly documented.
Another reason that the accuracy of your accident report is important is because it may impact your claim when dealing with insurance adjusters. The DMV-349 will be used by the insurance adjuster as a significant factor in his or her determination of liability. Since the accident report is relevant and highly important to the outcome of your claim, it is extremely important that you obtain a copy and make sure what’s on the report is accurate. If you feel that your crash report is inaccurate in any way, you may take steps to have it amended.