Understanding Your Accident Report (Part 3)


Contributing Causes

As stated in our previous post the DMV-349 includes the officer’s determination of contributing circumstances to the accident. This post centers around code boxes eight through nineteen on the right side of page one of your accident report.

  • Boxes 10 and 11 indicate the officer’s determination on which event in the crash sequence was the first harmful event (10) and which was the most harmful event (11).
  • Boxes 12 and 13 identify whether the road conditions contributed to the cause of the accident.
  • The other boxes provide the officer’s determination of which actions of the people involved contributed to the accident. Boxes 8 and 9 identify any potential contributing circumstances from the actions by a non-motorist such as a pedestrian. Boxes 14 through 19 indicate the actions of the first (14-16) and second drivers (17-19) that may have contributed to the accident.


Some common contributing cause codes that you may find in the driver boxes include:

  • 2. Disregarded Stop Sign,
  • 7. Exceeded the Safe Speed for Conditions,
  • 8. Failure to Reduce Speed,
  • 12. Improper Lane Change, and
  • 25. Following Too Closely

Although not definitive, the officer’s determination of contributing factors is very important when it comes to evaluating a personal injury claim. North Carolina is a unique state when it comes to personal injury claims. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning if you are one percent negligent in your accident you are barred from recovering damages from the other driver. This is unusual as in many states if you are one percent at fault but the other driver was ninety-nine percent at fault you would be able to recover ninety-nine percent of your damages. Contributory negligence is one of the strongest reasons why understanding how to read an accident report is a crucial skill for your personal injury attorney.

If you have questions about the contributing causes in your accident report and your personal injury claim call our personal injury attorney at 919-913-0706.