How to Read Your Washington Accident Report
If you've been involved in an accident, the Traffic Collision Report completed by the police officer who investigated the scene is an important piece of evidence that you and your lawyer will need to review. It contains vital information such as the date, time and location of the accident, names and contact information for the people involved and descriptions of the injuries caused.
Note that only one Part A is used for each accident.
- Pre-printed report number should match all other pages.
- Describes type of roadway and type of accident. Multiple incident types can be checked.
- Time, date and location of accident. Washington uses assigned numbers for counties and cities instead of names. IN/OF describes whether accident was inside or outside city limits.
- Total number of units includes vehicles, pedestrians and owners of property damaged in the accident.
- Describes the first vehicle (unit) involved in the accident. Unit 01 MUST be a motor vehicle or pedalcycle. It is not necessarily the vehicle at fault.
- Type of unit is motor vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle) or pedalcycle (e.g., bicycle)
- Damage threshold is checked if damage is over $1,000.
- Name, address and contact information for the operator of the vehicle. If unknown (e.g., hit and run) "Unknown" should be written in the last name field.
- License information. If a commercial vehicle is involved, CDL information is included as well.
- "On Duty" checkbox is used if accident involved an on-duty law enforcement officer or firefighter.
- Restraint code indicates whether seatbelts were used - critical information for a personal injury case.
- Likewise, Helmet Use code is used for motorcycles, bicycles, etc. To see whether helmets were used.
- Injury Coding section: Injury Class describes severity of injury. Nature of Injury describes the injury itself.
- Vehicle Information: Includes license plate and other registration information, plus contact information for the registered owner. If insurance is in effect, insurance information is here as well.
- Diagram shows where the vehicle was damaged.
- Describes the second unit involved in the accident. Unit 02 may be another vehicle, but it could also be a pedestrian or owner of property damaged in the accident.
- Information is identical to Unit 01, though not all information may be relevant depending on the type of unit. For instance, if Unit 02 is a pedestrian, the license plate number will be left blank.
- Officer prints his/her name and badge number at the bottom.
- All accidents will use at least one Part B. Some may use more than one.
- Report number should match pre-printed number on Part A.
- The officer may use a Part B to correct a previous page. If so, the Correction box is checked.
- Passengers and witnesses involved in the accident are listed here, including contact and demographic information, seating position, airbag use, restraint use (seat belts or child seats), helmet use, injury coding and helmet use.
- Diagram visually indicates what happened in the accident.
- Narrative section describes what happened in the accident. Additional pages may be used for a longer narrative.
- Investigating officer signs and dates the bottom. Bottom also describes when police were dispatched and when they arrived at the scene.