Understanding Your Washington Accident Report
After a car accident, one of the most critical pieces of evidence is the Traffic Collision Report filled out by the police officer who responds to the accident scene. You need to carefully review this document with a car accident attorney to find vital information, including the time and location of the accident, contact information for involved motorists and witnesses, and descriptions of any injuries sustained in the accident.
Reading and understanding this report can be difficult. That's why NLE Law offers this guide to the State of Washington Police Traffic Collision Report as a free service to our website visitors. Our attorneys have reviewed thousands of accident reports and know how to use this document to help protect your legal rights. Contact us for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
The investigating officer uses one and only one Part A for each accident.
- This pre-printed number should match all pages of the report.
- Type of roadway and type of accident are listed here. There may be multiple types checked.
- Accident time, date and location. In Washington, the police use assigned numbers rather than names for cities and counties. IN/OF indicates whether the accident happened inside or outside city limits.
- Total number of units involved. A "unit" is a vehicle, a pedestrian or the owner of an item of property damaged in the accident.
- This section is about the first vehicle (unit) involved in the accident. Unit 01 is always a motor vehicle or pedalcycle (that is, a bicycle, etc.). However, it is not always the vehicle at fault.
- Type of unit may be a motor vehicle (such as a car, truck or motorcycle) or a pedalcycle.
- Name and contact information for the vehicle's operator. "Unknown" will be written in the last name field if the operator is unknown (as with a hit-and-run).
- License information and, if this is a commercial vehicle, CDL information as well.
- If the unit was an on-duty law officer or firefighter, "On Duty" is checked.
- Restraint code and helmet use code indicate whether seatbelts and helmets were used as appropriate.
- Injury coding includes severity and type of injury.
- Vehicle information includes license plate, registration, insurance information and contact information for the owner.
- Diagram shows where the vehicle was damaged.
- This section is about the second unit involved. Depending on the accident, Unit 02 could be another vehicle, but it could also be a pedestrian or someone who owned property damaged in the accident.
- Same information is used as in Unit 01. Any irrelevant information is left blank; for instance, a pedestrian involved in an accident will not have a license plate number.
- Officer's name and badge number are printed at the bottom.
- An accident may use more than one Part B. All accident reports include at least one.
- Report number should match the pre-printed number from Part A.
- Part B is sometimes used to correct a previous page. If so, the officer checks the Correction box.
- Passengers and witnesses are listed here. Contact and demographic information, seating position, airbag, restraint and helmet use and injury coding are all included.
- Diagram shows what happened in the accident visually.
- Narrative section is the officer's written description of what happened.
- Officer signs and dates the bottom section, which also includes the time the police were dispatched and the time they arrived at the accident scene.