How Do You Read A Michigan Police Report? - Lee Steinberg Law Firm

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How Do You Read A Michigan Police Report?

A Michigan car crash is a very scary event.  The crash causes uncertainty, frustration and sometimes serious personal injury.  When a car accident occurs, it is essential the police or local authorities are called to the accident scene and the individuals involved in the crash give their versions of the events.

When this does occur, the police will complete what’s called a “State of Michigan Traffic Crash Report” or a UD-10 Report.  Under Michigan law, a local authority is responsible for completing and processing an accurate police report which details the events surrounding the motor vehicle accident.   These reports are then submitted to the Michigan State Police, who maintains the Traffic Crash Reporting System (TCRS) database.  The database serves as the central repository for all traffic crashes in the state.   The database information is shared with other state and federal agencies, as well as the public. 

But how do you read a Michigan Police Report or UD-10 report?  The actual police report contains multiple sections and uses various letters and numbers to signify certain things and events.   As a result, reading and understanding the report can be difficult.  This article seeks to help users read and understand a Michigan traffic crash report.

First, some of the basics.  Most police reports are two pages and include a basic diagram of the accident scene.  If more than two vehicles are involved in the accident, then the report will include an additional page for each vehicle.  Police reports are now completed electronically.    

The top portion of the report includes basic information about the crash, including crash date, crash time, crash type and the number of units involved.  The police officer completing the report will also include special circumstances, such as whether the crash involved a hit-and-run situation or school bus.  This section will also indicate the city, county and weather conditions at the time of the crash.  The department completing the report is also included. 

The next section is the location of the accident.  The road where the crash occurred along with any nearby intersections will be included. 

After this, a detailed breakdown of the vehicles and individuals involved in the crash begins.  The first thing to look for is “Unit Number.”  Each person involved in the accident is designated a “unit number.”   This unit number is then used throughout the report.  The first driver is usually given unit number “1”.  Next to Unit Number is the driver license number, date of birth and sex of the driver, as well as the total occupants inside the vehicle. 

A very important detail in this section is “Hazardous Action.”  This box is found on the far right of the report on the same line as the “unit number” and describes who is at-fault for causing the crash.  Each unit number is given a numerical code in the hazardous action box.  A “00” means “none.”  This means the police officer does not place any fault for causing the accident on that driver. 

There are many hazardous action codes.  Please review the UD-10 Manual and look on page 3-12 for a full description of what each numerical code means.  Typical numbers are 03 = failure to yield, 04 = disregard traffic control, 09 = improper turn and 12 = failure to stop in assured clear distance. 

After hazardous action, you will find basic information about the driver, including address and phone number.  The next box is the “Injury” box.  This box designates the level of injury sustained by the driver and is used by insurance companies to gauge the level of injury at the accident scene.  Again, codes are used.  The codes are O, C, B, A, K.  Please review the UD-10 Manual and look on page 4-2 for a description of injury codes.  An “O” injury means “no injury” while “K” signifies a fatality. 

 The injury box is completed by the responding police officer and is not always correct.  Many times a “O” injury is marked when instead the accident victim has serious injuries from the accident.     

After the “injury” box are boxes for “position”, “restraint” and “hospital”.  Again codes are used to show which position in the vehicle the person occupied and what type of restrain was used.  Hospital means whether or not the driver went to the hospital, and if so, which one.  Below the hospital box is an “ambulance” box and describes whether an ambulance was called to the accident scene.

Another important box after this is “Driver Condition.”  This is a 10 point scale and describes the condition of the driver that may have contributed to the crash.  “1” means “appeared normal” and “2” means “had been drinking.” 

This section also contains whether or not alcohol was a contributed factor to the crash, including whether a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test was administered.

Next comes the “vehicle registration” and insurance information of the driver.  If the driver provides insurance at the scene, this information will be contained in this box.  Although this information is not always accurate, it is a starting point in discovering the insurance information for the driver of that vehicle.    

After that, towing information is provided along with the make, model and VIN of the vehicle involved. 

The last two lines of this section are also very important.  The “Extent of Damage” box and “Driveable” box are important because it signifies the level of vehicle damage for that car.  The “extent of damage” box is graded on an 8 point scale, with 0 signifying no damage and 7 signifying severe vehicle damage.  The “driveable” box tells you whether or not the vehicle was driveable from the accident scene.   

Again, please review the Michigan UD-10 Traffic Crash Report Manual for a full breakdown on the codes for this section. 

After this section, the passenger information is completed.  If there are any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident, their information is contained here.  However, check closely.  Often the information in this section is not correct and individuals involved in the crash are completely left out. 

At the bottom of the page is the “owner information.”  If information concerning the ownership of the vehicle is provided to the responding police officer, it is will be included here. 

The next page is for the next unit number.  Usually it is “unit number” 2.  The same information described above is included for this driver.

At the end of the report, the investigating officer’s name and badge number is included.  This is important information and designates the person responsible for completing the report.  This is usually the same officer who responded to the accident scene. 

This section will also include witness information if there were any witnesses to the motor vehicle accident.  Usually the witness’s name, address and phone number is provided here. 

Below this is the diagram of the accident along with a narrative of how the crash occurred.  The narrative is compiled by taking the statements from the various drivers, passengers and witnesses to the crash.   Most narratives are brief and only contain the most important factors leading to the crash.  Narratives are not always correct, especially if the responding officers did not have the opportunity to speak with all the individuals involved in the crash. 

There are a few things to remember about police reports.  The report itself is not admissible as evidence in a civil action.  This is the law.  The reason for this is the simple fact that everything in the report is hearsay.  However, the responding police officer can use the report to testify to his or her opinion on how the accident occurred. 

The narrative section is important because it is almost always used by the police officer later on at deposition to describe how the car accident occurred, who caused the accident and why. 

This is a brief article on what a Michigan Traffic Crash Report is and how to read and understand them.  If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, it is important to understand what the responding police officer wrote down in the crash report.  I hope this article is helpful in clarifying a few things. 

Again, for a more thorough description of the traffic crash report and what all the codes and boxes mean, please see the Michigan UD-10 Traffic Crash Report Manual that is provided by the Michigan State Police. 

In addition, please call the Michigan car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) with any questions you may have.