Over the years, we have reviewed thousands of police reports concerning Michigan automobile, truck, motorcycle and pedestrian injury cases. These reports are supposed to be filled out by the investigating police department as soon as possible following a crash that involves significant property damage, personal injury, or both.
Police reports are almost always filled out on standard forms issued to police departments by the State of Michigan. Having a standard method of recording crash scene information makes it easier to teach police officers what to look for and to record at the scene. Uniformity also allows information on the reports to be collected by agencies such as the Secretary of State, so that accident patterns and information can be stored and studied in a consistent fashion no matter where in the state an accident occurs.
One of the items that is looked at by the investigating officer at the scene is the extent of injury, if any, suffered by occupants of the vehicles involved, or of any pedestrians or bicycle riders who might have been struck. Would you like to know what the police officer thought of your injuries at the scene? Pull out a copy of your police report (we can tell you how to get a copy of your police report if you don’t know the procedure, or are having problems getting cooperation from the police) and read on.
First, find the box on the report with your name on it (the vehicle that was at fault is supposed to be the first one listed, but sometimes this is reversed). Right next to your name is a box called “Injury.” There will be one of these letters in the box: O, A, B, C or K. “O” means that the officer didn’t see any signs that you were hurt at the scene, and you didn’t say anything about being hurt, when you were asked. “C” means you told the officer you felt pain, but the officer didn’t see any visible signs of injury or impairment to you. “B” means you were complaining of pain, and that it was obvious you were hurt in a way that probably required attention, but nothing seemed urgent. “A” means you were seriously hurt and needed immediate attention, and probably an ambulance away from the scene. “K” means that the person was killed, dying either at the scene or from the injuries later.
Many times over the years, we have had cases where our client, who didn’t cause the accident, was listed as “O” or “C” by the officer, but turned out to have very serious injuries. We certainly understand that usually the police officers are not doctors, and while they have medical response training, there are many aspects to a crash, such as securing the scene from other accidents, preserving evidence, and filling out the report that take their time and attention. It is possible that even the best-trained and most sincere investigator can misinterpret information in the heat of the moment.
It is also a fact that people are usually very upset and emotional when they get in a crash, especially if the other driver caused it, and the excitement (some people call it an “adrenaline rush”) can mask the fact that the person is seriously hurt…at least for a few hours, by which time the police are gone, the cars have been towed away, and someone has come to take you home. Once the “rush” wears off, you might feel quite a bit worse that you did a few minutes after the crash, when you told the officer: “I’m okay-just let me get out of here!”
We also know from our years of experience with auto injury cases that many injuries take a while to develop. Time and again, we are called by people who have significant head, neck and back injuries who said they felt fine until a day or two after the accident, but then started having pains that got worse and worse. Many of these patients end up needing medical tests such as MRI or CT scan that can show injuries to parts of the body that x-rays don’t see very well. Often, patients who walked away from the scene of a crash end up needing surgery to correct imbalances that gradually worsen weeks or even months after the initial trauma (injury).
So if you are concerned that your police report says you weren’t hurt, when it turns out that you have had or may need extensive medical testing and treatment, it would be wise to talk to an attorney who handles automobile negligence cases. Your car insurance company, and the company for the driver who hit you, are certainly going to try to say that you must not have been hurt, because the officer at the scene wrote “O” or “C” for your injuries. What’s bad about that is the fact that your insurance is not going to want to pay for treatment for care that it says you don’t need. Also, your claim against the other driver for pain and suffering may be in trouble, because you have to have a “serious” injury in order to even qualify for a settlement for pain and suffering.
You will find that there are many fine law firms in Michigan that handle auto injury cases. Matz Injury Law is one of them. As with most firms, we don’t charge you to ask questions, and if you hire us, of course there is no fee if we don’t get you money. But we think what makes us special is not only our decades of good work for good people all across the state.
It’s also our 22% fee—not the 33 1/3% maximum charged by other firms that handle the same kinds of cases. We would appreciate it if you would contact us through our form or call 1-866-22Not33to see what we can do for you if you or a family member has been in an accident involving any kind of vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, ORV—even if you were a pedestrian. We can talk about your police report or any other questions you might have.