Filing a False Car Accident Report Is a Criminal Offense
When it comes to car accidents, many South Carolinians know that consequences can be contingent on the police report and evidence. When there is minimal or confusing evidence about car accidents, insurance companies often rely on the police report. Though this does not always pose an issue, there are times where the details in the document do not match up to the true nature of events. Sometimes, all law enforcement has to go on is what the parties involved say.
When someone makes a police report, they are making a legal statement that what they say is true. That statement can then be used as evidence in legal proceedings and insurance claims. When issues arise that call into question the credibility of the statement or evidence surfaces that is contradictory to the accident report, the insurance company may decide to investigate further. This can lead to longer claim processing times and legal action against the person who made a false police report.
There Are Legal and Civil Consequences to Consider When Making a Police Report
Making a false police report is a criminal offense in many states, not just in South Carolina. The offense can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. The penalties for knowingly filing a false police report range from a few months to several years in jail, fines and civil action from the insurer and other parties. The South Carolina statute for filing a false police report is as follows:
South Carolina Code 16-17-722. Filing of false police reports; knowledge; offense; penalties
(A) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly file a false police report.
(B) A person who violates subsection (A) by falsely reporting a felony is guilty of a felony and upon conviction must be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined not more than one thousand dollars, or both.
(C) A person who violates subsection (A) by falsely reporting a misdemeanor is guilty of a misdemeanor and must be imprisoned not more than thirty days or fined not more than five hundred dollars, or both.
(D) In imposing a sentence under this section, the judge may require the offender to pay restitution to the investigating agency to offset costs incurred in investigating the false police report.
Though it is not common for insurance companies to pursue criminal charges against an individual for filing a false accident report, it can and does happen. Many insurers and accident reconstruction experts use a variety of methods to determine fault and prove the veracity of police statements before they process claims. If the person who initially filed an accident report is found to have made an erroneous or inaccurate statement that places the majority of fault on another party, the insurer may fault them for the accident.
Review the Facts, Statements and Take Preventative Action
There are many reasons why some people make bogus statements to the police after crashing their cars. However, their false statements can cause adverse consequences that are worse than the original actions. People who end up in car accidents, regardless of who is at fault should always provide truthful statements to law enforcement. They should review their reports for accuracy and amend them when possible. Anyone who is accused of making a false statement or is unable to correct a police report should consider speaking to an attorney for guidance to minimize the potential legal complications from their mistake.