How To Interpret a Crash Report

fort worth responding officer writes a crash report

No Fort Worth resident wants to wreck their car, but sometimes we aren't so lucky. If you're involved in an auto accident in Texas, your first job is to call 911 (even if no one's hurt!) and make sure that a police report is filled out by the responding officer. 

What Your Texas Peace Officer's Crash Report Contains

A Texas Peace Officer's Crash Report (Form CR-3), otherwise known as an accident report, identifies the "Who, What, When, Where and How" factors associated with an accident.

The report is filled out after most car accidents in the state of Texas. These are usually two to four page reports that includes things like the name and address of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident, the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers, the location of towed cars, where hurt passengers were taken by ambulance, and much more.

Most importantly, the report contains the opinion of the investigating officer describing who's at fault for the car accident. The investigating officer will interview the drivers and any witnesses, then record the results of their investigation. 

Not every car accident responded to by a law enforcement officer results in the filing of an accident report. When an accident does not result in injury or death, or does not appear to involve at least $1,000 in damage to any individual vehicle, the investigating officer can facilitate the exchange of personal and insurance information between drivers and have them complete a Driver's Crash Report (Form CR-2), otherwise known as a blue form that the involved drivers then mail to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The accident or crash report is completed by the investigating law enforcement officer and documents the exact details of the accident while they are fresh in the minds of those who witnessed the event. The accident report is especially useful to insurance companies when dealing with liability issues stemming from the accident.

To Interpret the Officer's Writing, Look at Box 36

While all elements of the report are necessary to pursue a successful claim for compensation against the negligent motorist’s insurance company, the first think any good Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury attorney would look at on the report is box 36; otherwise known as the “Factors Contributing” section of the report. This is where the police officer assigns a number depending on who was responsible for the wreck and the specific reason why.

Factors and conditions listed on the report include reasons like “changed lanes when unsafe,” “disregard turn marks at intersection,” “driver inattention,” “failed to yield,” “overtake and pass insufficient clearance” and “road rage.” 

When we look at a police report at the Anderson Law Firm in Fort Worth, one the first things we do is flip to the second page of the report to see who the officer assigned as "at-fault." It's important because if you're at-fault for the accident, then your insurance will be responsible for the damages and injuries. However, if the other driver is at-fault, their insurance will have to pay you for things like medical bills, missed work days and so on. 

Additional Key Information To Look For

Below is what we consider to be the key information contained in a Texas Crash Report. 

Accident location:

  • Reveals the date, time, specific address and direction of the roadways where the accident occurred. Can also indicate the speed limit and type of speed zone such as a construction or school zone.


  • Identifies the year/make/model/license plate/VIN and owners and/or drivers of vehicles involved in the accident. Provides driver identifiers including DL status, employment and address.

Insurance information:

  • Identifies liability insurance information produced at the scene, including insurance company name and policy number for each driver involved.

Vehicle damage rating:

  • Indicates the general area of damage and severity on a scale of 1 to 5.

Charges filed:

  • Indicates charge(s) filed against drivers involved and the traffic citation number which was issued.

Occupant codes:

  • Lists information of occupants such as their respective identifiers, seat position, use of seat belts, determination of injuries, and location transported to by ambulance.

Narrative and diagram:

  • A brief synopsis written by the investigating officer, which indicates factors and conditions that may or may not have contributed to the accident. Accompanied by an informal drawing of the location of the vehicles involved in the accident and notation of traffic controls, road surface conditions, weather, light, etc.

Factors and conditions:

  • Specific elements attributed to the driver(s) that may or may not have contributed to the accident, in the opinion of the investigating officer. Examples of common factors contributing to an accident include "failure to control speed" and "failed to yield right of way - stop sign."


  • Reveals the names and contact information of third-parties who witnessed the accident first-hand. Investigating officers generally interview the witnesses in the course of conducting their accident investigation.


If you’ve been involved in an accident and you have questions on how to interpret this police report, give us a call, we’ll be glad to help you out and to figure out exactly what the officer says was the cause of the accident. Give us a call today at 817-294-1900 to schedule a free consultation!

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:

Analysis of a Texas Police Report
How to Get Your Texas Car Accident Report
Accident Investigation Information
Determining Liability in a Car Accident
What We Do For Our Clients at the Anderson Law Firm

Mark A. Anderson
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Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas