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The Role of a Police Officer after a Car Wreck

Police car with lit sirens parked on road

If you are involved in a car wreck, one of the first things you should do is call 911. A police officer, sheriff deputy, or Highway Patrol will be dispatched to come to the scene of the collision and make a report. They are often referred to as Law Enforcement Officers “LEO.” Mississippi law requires law enforcement to investigate crashes involving an injury. The report is called the “Mississippi Uniform Crash Report.” You can see a Mississippi sample report by clicking “MUCR.”

What does the Law Enforcement Officer do?

The officer or deputy will gather information about the drivers, the vehicles, the passengers, witnesses, and the time and location of the car wreck. The officer will gather information about the owner of each vehicle involved and any insurance coverage information. Road conditions and weather are also included. The information on the police report is critical to your Attorney when working up your case.

Mississippi Statues 63-3-411 and 63-3-415 require law enforcement to investigate crashes involving a fatality. These reports are submitted to the Department of Public Safety.

What if there are mistakes in the Crash Report?

Generally, law enforcement officers do a good job of accurately reporting the information. However, mistakes can and do occur. If some information is inaccurate, your Attorney can work with the officer or Agency to get the report amended. It is very important that you explain what happened to cause the wreck when you are speaking to the officer.

Remember, the officer usually is not present when the accident happened. This means that the officer fills out the Crash report bases on his own observations and statements given to him.

Why does the Crash Report have a diagram of the scene of the car wreck?

The officer prepares a diagram (drawing) of where the vehicles were immediately prior to the collision, and where the vehicles finally came to rest. Although the diagram is not to scale, it gives a visual representation to help anyone looking at the report understand what happened. The vehicles are usually labeled “V1” for vehicle #1 and “V2” for vehicle #2, and so on to indicate which vehicles are represented in the diagram. They usually indicate the direction of travel, the street or highway where the collision occurred.

When multiple vehicles are involved, the diagram is a very useful tool for your Attorney. When combined with the rest of the information included in the report, your Attorney will have a good understanding of who was involved, what happened, when and where the collision occurred and hopefully be able to determine who was at fault.

Will the Officer speak to the Witnesses?

Yes, the officer should speak to everyone involved in the collision, including any bystanders who are witnesses to the wreck. By speaking to all persons involved, the officer can do a better job of determining exactly what happened. Hopefully, the officer will put the names and contact information for each witness on the Crash Report so the Attorney can get Affidavits from each witness.

What if the Officer issues citations?

It is not uncommon for no citation to be issued. However, if one of the drivers is intoxicated, then a DUI may be issued. You will sometimes also see officers write citations for no insurance or suspended drivers licenses. Therefore, depending on the type of citation issues (if any), the Attorney will investigate further.