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Car Accidents: Understanding Illinois Traffic Crash Reports and their Importance

by | Aug 19, 2020 | Firm News


If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois, you should always call the police and ask the responding officer to make a report. In Illinois, law enforcement officers will then fill out what is called an “Illinois Traffic Crash Report.” The image above is a blank sample of a crash report with no details filled in.

These reports provide a great amount of detail about how an accident happened, and are a very valuable source of information in a claim against an insurance company or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

The information that will be contained in the report is:

  • The names, addresses, and insurance companies of all drivers involved in the accident. (See for example boxes 20 and 44 on the image above).
  • The location of the accident. (Boxes 7-11 above).
  • The witnesses to the accident and their addresses and phone numbers. (Box 45 above).
  • A narrative description of the officer’s interviews with the drivers involved in the collision, including the at-fault driver.
  • A narrative description of how the accident occurred, as well as a drawn diagram of how the accident occurred.

If the officer determines after his or her investigation that the at-fault driver violated the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code or a local municipal ordinance, the officer will also specify what law the driver violated. This can be useful, because if the at-fault driver later pleads guilty to a traffic ticket or misdemeanor offense, the injured driver may use this guilty plea as evidence of the driver’s negligence.

The crash report will also list investigating officer’s opinion about the primary and secondary causes of the accident, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Improper passing
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Improper turning or turning with no signal
  • A driver being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Obscured vision
  • Disregarding a yield or stop sign
  • Disregarding traffic signals
  • Exceeding safe speed for conditions
  • Failing to reduce the speed of a vehicle to avoid an accident
  • Distracted driving

The crash report will also contain information about the weather at the time of the accident. This can be very useful. For example, assume that an accident occurred when it was raining, and a driver drove too fast for the wet road conditions and rear-ended a vehicle in front of him that was stopped at a stop light. The injured driver will alleged that the at-fault driver drove too fast for road conditions and failed to keep a proper lookout. Now assume that the at-fault driver later denies that it was raining, that the roads were wet, or that his vision was obscured by rain. The crash report can be valuable because it will contain the officer’s impressions at the time of the accident that the weather was in fact rainy and that the roads were in fact wet.

So as you can see, calling the police after a car accident and insisting that the police make an Illinois Traffic Crash Report can greatly aid an injured driver in bringing a successful claim against an at-fault driver.

Arlo Walsman