Why is obtaining and understanding your NC Crash Report so important?
After your accident, one of the most important actions you can take is to gain access to a copy of your accident report. In North Carolina, an accident report is commonly referred to by its official title of DMV-349. A DMV-349 is created and used by all law enforcement officers to report car accidents across North Carolina to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is typical for an accident report to be completed by the law enforcement officer who responded to the scene of the accident and conducted the investigation. An accident report will often include information regarding the officer’s thoughts and opinions as to the mechanics of the accident, investigation notes and property damage values.
The accident report contains a significant amount of information regarding the accident events, including the identity of the drivers, who owns the vehicles, identity of any witnesses, mechanics of the accident and road-related conditions.
One of the most important pieces of information contained within the DMV-349 is the list of contributing circumstances (it is possible that there are several listed) that the investigating officer determined to be involved in causing the accident. These contributing circumstances may include inattention, failing to reduce speed, alcohol or drug use or a variety of other circumstances that can be found by visiting our Accident Contributing Circumstances Guide.
The contributing circumstances are essentially the officer’s determination or opinions as to what actions a particular driver took, or failed to take, that contributed to the crash. It is important to note that the code values identified by the investigating officers record the cause of the accident and not the particular traffic infraction or violation committed. Therefore, even though the at-fault driver may have been cited by the officer for unsafe movement, the contributing circumstance will identify the specific circumstance involved in creating the collision, such as exceeding safe speed, failure to reduce speed or inattention.
Regardless, the contributing circumstance listed by the investigating offer will often aid you in correctly identifying who is at fault in a particular set of accident facts. This will become especially important when we discuss presenting your personal injury claim to the insurance company.