Crash Reports: DMV-349

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Understanding Your DMV-349 Report in North Carolina

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:

  1. The accident resulted in a fatality
  2. The accident resulted in a non-fatal personal injury
  3. The accident resulted in total property damage amounting to $1,000 or more
  4. The accident resulted in property damage of any amount to a vehicle seized

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 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.

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What Important Information Does the Crash Report Have?

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.

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 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 to the outcome of your claim, it’s 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.

Breaking Down the Boxes

Locate the contributing circumstances related to your car accident by looking to contrib-circumstances-dmv-249the right-hand side of the first page of your crash report. The contributing circumstances boxes are labeled No. 14 – 19. The activity or actions of the individual drivers, which may have caused or contributed to the accident, are listed in boxes No. 14 – 19 and document the cause of the accident and not necessarily any traffic citations issued.

Understanding the contributing circumstances of your crash report means knowing that numbers typed into boxes No. 14 – 16 relate to the actions of “Unit 1,” and numbers typed into boxes No. 17 – 19 relate to the actions of “Unit 2.” After you have located these boxes, interpret or decode the number or numbers typed in the boxes by referring to the Accident Contributing Circumstance Guide.

For example, should a Crash Report contain the numbers 6 and 11 in boxes No. 17 and 18, this would require knowing that contributing circumstance No. 6 is “Exceeded Authorized Speed Limit” and No. 11 is “Crossed Center Line.” Given that boxes No. 17 and 18 relate to the actions of Unit 2, this would mean that Unit 2, as identified, is believed to have exceeded an authorized speed limit and crossed the center line, causing the collision. Remember that the officer can identify up to three contributing circumstances.

The Crash Report identifies other individuals, including passengers and pedestrians, involved in the collision. The sections designated as Nos. 21 -32 provide detailed information regarding the individual listed.

Box 21 – Vehicle Number

This box records the specific vehicle number in the crash (vehicle 1, vehicle 2, etc.) in order to provide the location of occupants and/or to identify which vehicle struck which non-motorist. Further, the information in this box identifies what happened to each vehicle involved in the crash.

Box 22 – Person Type

This box lists the person type according to specific codes. The DMV has determined that this box is important for classification purposes to evaluate countermeasures designed for specific peoples.

  • Driver
  • Passengers, Non-Motorist
  • Pedestrian
  • Cyclist
  • Roller Skater, Roller Blader
  • Other
  • Unknown

Box 23 – Seating Position

This box records the physical location of the occupant prior to the collision using the following DMV codes. The seating positions for occupants are provided as the left-most seating positions in the first three rows of seat positions.

  1. Front – left (driver/motorcycle driver)
  2. Front – middle
  3. Front – right
  4. Second seat – left (motorcycle passenger)
  5. Second seat – middle
  6. Second seat – right
  7. Third row – left (motorcycle passenger)
  8. Third row – middle
  9. Third row – right
  10. Sleeper section of cab (truck)
  11. Passenger in another enclosed passenger area (refer to supplemental multi-occupant form)
  12. Passenger in unenclosed area (pickup)
  13. Trailing unit
  14. Riding on vehicle exterior
  15. Unknown

Box 24 – Date of Birth

This box contains the date of birth (DOB) in month, day, and year format for each individual involved in the collision. If this information is not available, the officer will often estimate the age of the individual. It is becoming increasingly common for this entire box to be redacted for minor children under the age of eighteen if the accident report is not a certified original from the DMV.

Box 25 – Ethnicity

This box records the ethnicity of the designated individuals in the following manner:

  • W – White
  • B – Black
  • I – Native American
  • H- Hispanic
  • A- Asian
  • O – Other (written in narrative)
  • U – Unknown

Box 26 – Gender

This box records the gender of each person involved in the collision. The DMV believes that this information is necessary to evaluate gender on occupant protection systems and vehicle design characteristics.

  • M – Male
  • F – Female
  • U – Unknown

Box 27 – Occupant/Non-Motorist Protection

This box records information related to the occupant protection, or non-motorist protection, used by person(s) involved in the crash.

  • None used
  • Lap belt only
  • Shoulder and lap belt
  • Shoulder belt only
  • Child restraint
  • Helmet (motorcyclist or non-motorist)

Codes 6-8 for non-motorist only

  1. Protective pads
  2. Reflective clothing
  3. Lighting
  4. Other (written in narrative)
  5. Unable to determine

Box 28 – Airbag Deployment

This box records the deployment status of an airbag, relative to each occupant of the vehicle. This information is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of airbags and other occupant protection equipment.

  • 0 – No air bags
  • 1 – Not deployed
  • 2 – Deployed – front
  • 3 – Deployed – side
  • 4 – Deployed – both front and side
  • 5 – Unknown

Box 32 – Injury Status

This box records the most severe injury to a person involved in the crash. The DMV believes that this information is necessary for injury outcome analysis and evaluation. This element is also critical in providing linkage between the crash, EMS, and hospital records.

  • 1 – Killed – Deaths which occur within 12 months after the crash.
  • 2 – A injury type (disabling) – Injury obviously serious enough to prevent the person injured from performing his normal activities for at least one day beyond the day of the collision. Examples include massive loss of blood, broken bone, or loss of consciousness.
  • 3 – B injury type (evident) – Obvious injury, other than killed or disabling, which is evident at the scene. Bruises, swelling, limping, and soreness are examples. Class B injury would not necessarily prevent the person from carrying out his normal activities.
  • 4 – C injury type (possible) – No visible injury, but person complains of pain, or has been momentarily unconscious.
  • 5 – No injury
  • 6 – Unknown

Box 37 – Alcohol/Drugs Suspected

This box records the investigating officer’s assessment of whether alcohol or drugs were used or involved.

  • No
  • Yes – alcohol, impairment suspected
  • Yes – alcohol, no impairment detected
  • Yes – other drugs, impairment suspected
  • Yes – other drugs, no impairment detected
  • Yes – alcohol and other drugs, impairment suspected
  • Yes – alcohol and other drugs, no impairment detected
  • Unknown

Box 38 – Alcohol/Drugs Test Status

This box documents whether a test was given, including the type, or whether a test was refused.

  • 0 – No test
  • 1 – Alcohol test
  • 2 – Test for drugs other than alcohol
  • 3 – Test for alcohol and other drugs
  • 4 – Test refused
  • 5 – Unknown

Box 39 – Test Results

This box records the indication of the degree of presence of alcohol or other drugs through testing.

  • 0 – No test
  • 1 – No alcohol or other drugs
  • 2 – Alcohol (the actual test results ~ percent BAC is to be written in space #39 on the DMV-349, if the result is known)
  • 3 – Other drugs reported
  • 4 – Contaminated sample/unusable
  • 5 – Pending
  • 6 – Unknown

You can access our Crash Report Request form in order to obtain the report here.

Our Durham attorneys can help you obtain your crash report and identify the information you need for your claim. Call us at (919) 887-7892 for a free consultation.

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