Should I fill out a Driver’s Crash Report or Blue Form (CR-2) after my car accident?
In the state of Texas, there are a few procedural things you must do after your car accident, including filing out the appropriate forms. The Texas Driver’s Crash Report (CR-2), which is known as the “Blue Form,” is one such requirement. In this article, we’ll explain what it is and how to avoid common mistakes.
What is the Blue Form?
In a perfect world, police officers would be available to investigate every car accident case fully, and then they’d prepare a typical, officer-created accident report (known as a CR-3). However, sometimes the police are unavailable. Other times, they may arrive on the scene only to decline creating a report. Often this is because they just don’t feel like it (which is technically a violation of the law). The law which governs accident reports (subchapter D of Section 550 of the Texas Transportation Code) uses somewhat vague language by saying that officers “may investigate” when it is “apparent” that $1,000 dollars of property damage was done or when it appears that someone was injured. Naturally, the ambiguity conferred in the words “may” and “apparent” means that there is some grey area. So even though it may appear to an accident victim that an injury has obviously occurred or it may be clearly enough property damage to warrant an officer creating a report, the officer on scene may disagree.
The cold, hard reality is that some cops just don’t feel like creating reports, so they sort of pawn the responsibility off on the people involved in the accident. Usually, the officer will say something like, “It doesn’t seem like this is an accident that warrants me making a report, so maybe you should fill out a Blue Form.” To be frank, they’re often just passing the buck. We’ve seen numerous cases where it was obvious that the people involved in the accident were injured and that the property damage was significant in value, yet the victims of the accident were still told to fill out a CR-2.
Am I required to fill out a Blue Form?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Texas law requires you to fill out the form if the following things occurred in the accident:
- If there was an injury or death–if one of these events occurs, you must fill out a Blue Form.
- Or if there appears to be more than $1,000 worth of damage to either party’s property– this is pretty clear, but also know that even if there was no injury or death, if this value of damage was done, you must fill out a Blue Form.
Remember, though, the whole idea behind a Blue Form is that an officer wasn’t available to create a report for you or he declined to do so, so you don’t need to fill out a Blue Form if an officer created a report for your accident.
What’s the purpose of a Blue Form?
Essentially, instead of an official report being submitted by an officer, a CR-2 is the documentation that serves to explain to the Texas Department of Transportation how your accident went down: detailing the events that occurred prior to, during, and after the wreck. The State of Texas wants to know about virtually every car accident that takes place, so that they can maintain reliable statistics.
But that’s just the thing. The only reason the Blue Form exist is so that the state may track those statistics. Many people mistakenly believe that if they fill out a CR-2 in just the right way, it will give them a competitive advantage when filing an insurance claim against the person who caused their accident. This is a misconception. The CR-2 becomes “official” in the sense that it is now a part of the state’s record keeping, but it has no inherent authority. So, no, you can’t show up to court, throw a Blue Form down on the judge’s bench, and exclaim, “Your honor, I rest my case.”
The reason that most people think that Blue Forms carry this weight is based on another widespread misconception; the belief that officer-created reports carry such weight. In fact, they do not either. Police reports are viewed by the court as simply being an officer’s opinion. Many jurors find that opinion to be important, but police reports, no matter how official they may seem, do not definitively determine fault in an accident.
Think about it for a second. If the police arrest someone for, say, drug possession, does that person immediately and automatically go to prison? After all, the police created an arrest report, right? No, the accused perpetrator is still afforded the right to defend themselves and essentially tell a jury, “The officer was wrong.” Well, the exact same concept of “innocent unless proven guilty” applies to car accident cases and civil lawsuits. The mere existence of any report (CR-2, CR-3, or otherwise) does not decide the fate of a disputed liability claim. Like any other kind of case under Texas law, reports, official or otherwise, are simply one piece of evidence among many, subject to cross-examination. Cases are decided by the totality of evidence, not any single tidbit.
So, no, Blue Forms are not going to be a vital piece of evidence in a car accident case, unless, of course, the person you intend to sue filed their own CR-2 in which they claimed that the accident was their fault, or if you make false statement or error when filling out your own report.
The Breakdown of a Blue Form
The form itself serves many purposes for all parties involved. Therefore, it is very thorough. When filling it out, you’ll have to complete all of the necessary sections:
- Location of the accident
- Date of the crash
- Vehicles involved
- Damage to all parties’ property
- Injuries sustained
- Driver’s statement (this is where you describe in narrative form what happened)
- Signature attesting to details written on form
The purpose of having all of these sections is to make sure every detail is accounted for after the accident.
Regardless of intent, Blue Forms are often not very helpful.
In most cases, both parties will file a Blue Form and they become little more than written versions of “he said – she said.” There is nothing about the form that verifies the statements to be correct or accurate depictions of what happened. It is simply your statement versus the opposing party’s statement. In these kinds of cases, Blue Forms are generally not very helpful. When statements are reduced to this they provide very little assistance in determining fault.
Typically, the only time these Blue Forms are put to use is when they can be used against the person who wrote them. More often than not, Blue Forms are used by opposing parties, the court, and insurance companies as a way to try and prove that you are at fault. This finding could result in you not being properly compensated for your damages or could even cause you to reimburse another party for their losses. Again, the point being made here is that Blue Forms rarely, if ever, will serve as your silver bullet piece of evidence. Instead, they usually just create an opportunity for either side to scrutinize the other.
Blue Forms can cause you more harm than good, so talk to a lawyer first.
Even though Blue Forms are not “official” in the sense that they don’t definitively prove your case (no report does that), they are official in the sense that they are a state record, so what you can definitely be held accountable for what you say on them.
Further, it’s essentially a recorded statement. While this may occasionally help your case, in many instances, it can be incredibly detrimental. Frequently people make casual or silly mistakes when retelling a story. We often mix up the name of a person, or invert the numbers of an address or phone number. If you confuse what street you were driving on when you had your car accident, or if you simply write the incorrect speed you were driving at the time of the collision, the court or the insurance company can use this report as a voluntary admission on your part. A simple mistake like this would be extremely harmful in your case.
Consequently, you should always consult an attorney before filing a Blue Form because the trial and/or insurance claim process is incredibly complex. If you are not experienced and knowledgeable about how different kinds of information are utilized in court proceedings, you could unknowingly create problems with your case. You need an experienced attorney who understands how each bit of evidence, including a Blue Form, can be used against you or in your favor.
Examples of how the Blue Form could be used against you.
Additionally, you may write something down that is accurate but unnecessary to the case, ultimately damaging to your argument. For example, say you get in an accident while leaving a parking lot and note in your report that your car was hit when you were leaving Centennial Liquor Store located in that parking lot. The other driver’s insurance company would see this as a way to claim that you may have been under the influence of alcohol based on your Blue Form admission. Frankly, where you were coming from was irrelevant, but you unknowingly severed the insurance company or defense counsel an argument to use against you, and they try to will spin this fact into proof that you were likely intoxicated, when in reality you were completely sober. Including the store in which you were coming from in no way benefits your claim and will easily be more detrimental to your recovery.
Or maybe you write that you were leaving the Kroger grocery store when someone hit your car in the parking lot. Often times in an investigation, insurance companies can access the reports from your “Kroger Plus Card.” Many people do not realize that this card not only gives you discounts when you purchase gas, but it also tracks and records all of your purchases made with that card. The trial court or the insurance company could then access your card, see that you purchased alcohol during that specific visit, and claim that you may have been inebriated when you were driving and, therefore, you were actually at fault.
These are just examples, but we can assure you that after 25 years of litigating car accident cases we’ve seen thousands of examples of where clients unintentionally harmed their case because they volunteered too much information.
Just stick to the facts
Again, your best bet is to get a free consultation from our attorneys before you fill out a CR-2. Either way, when you fill it out, just stick to the facts. No one cares about the righteous indignation that you possess, nor do they care about how artfully you can insult the other driver. For instance, this is not acceptable:
I was minding my own business as I made my way to the orphanage to feed starving children, when all of a sudden this crazed madman came out of nowhere and struck my car. I know in my heart of hearts that he was trying to kill me.
A an acceptable telling of this story is:
I was driving my Honda Civic westbound on Forest Lane in Dallas, TX. My vehicle was in the outside lane. The other driver was heading southbound on Inwood Road in a Toyota Camry. I had a green light so I entered the intersection and was struck on the driver’s side of my car, resulting in damage to both front and rear doors and the driver’s side rear quarter panel.
That’s all you need. Also, avoid trying to sound “lawyery” or like you’re an 18th century member of the English Parliament. For instance:
In this year of Our Lorde two thousand and fifteen, I, Johnathon Smith, son of Steven Smith, first of his name, hailing from the shire of Dallas in the State of Texas, former Spanish Colony and Indian territory, bequeathed to the citizens of Texas through a furious battle at The Alamo (God rest their souls), hereby declare the horseless carriage accident to which I was a party is no fault of mine! Rather it be an untimely happenstance borne of vile conduct on behalf of…
Seriously, keep it simple. When most people try to sound official or like a lawyer, they usually just sound crazy and hurt their own case.
Don’t risk your entire recovery on a Blue Form.
Car accidents always involve some type of financial hardship, to some degree or another. In our nation’s adversarial court system, there is no such thing as automatic compensation, and you can always expect the other side to fight you if they have any opportunity to do so. As such, don’t buy trouble for yourself by creating leverage for them that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
Therefore, if you do choose to submit a Blue Form, you should always seek advice from a lawyer who is experienced with car accident cases and can help you determine what would be the best course of action. If you have been involved or injured in an automobile accident, call Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000 . We’re glad to point you in the right direction, even if you don’t have the type of case that necessitates our legal services.