Understanding Your Accident Report


After you’ve been involved in an accident, one of the most important documents you should obtain is a DMV-349, more commonly known as an accident report. In North Carolina, law enforcement officers use the DMV-349 to report accidents across the state to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Not all accidents are considered reportable. An accident must be reported under North Carolina law if:

  • a person was injured or killed,
  • there is property damage of at least $1,000,
  • there is any amount of property damage to a vehicle that is seized in relation to a DWI offense,
  • a driver hits a parked or unattended vehicle on a street or highway.

If an accident meets one of the above criteria and law enforcement responds to the scene of the accident the officer is required to prepare a DMV-349 accident report within 24 hours of the accident.

The report includes a significant amount of critical information regarding the circumstances of your accident including the identity of the drivers, witnesses, and owners of the vehicles involved. Additionally, the accident report will include the road conditions as well as the specifics about how the accident occurred. Of particular importance will be the officer’s determination of fault and contributing circumstances. The accident report will include a specific code value for a number of contributing circumstances as well as whether a traffic citation was issued such as exceeding the safe speed, failure to reduce speed, or unsafe lane change.

Although an officer’s impressions of an accident are not a binding determination they provide a preliminary impression that is essential to evaluating your personal injury claim. In this series of brief posts we will discuss the information included in a DMV-349 and how to decipher the different sections of the form. If you have been injured following an accident and have questions about a possible personal injury claim please call our Personal Injury Attorney at 919-913-0706.