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What Is KABCO? How Police Categorize Injuries After a Crash

Police officer fills out an accident report while at a crash scene.

As part of their investigation into a car accident, officers take statements and record injury information in the police crash report. Police officers are also required to make a note of any crash injuries and their severity that resulted from the wreck using the KABCO scale.

KABCO, as defined by the guidelines established by the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC, Fifth Edition), is defined as “[a] functional measure of the injury severity for any person involved in the crash.”

K = Fatal Injury

A = Suspected Serious Injury

B = Suspected Minor Injury

C = Possible Injury

O = No Apparent Injury

Each U.S. state defines the broad elements of KABCO somewhat differently, and a few even add additional categories such as “Unknown” or “Dead Prior to Accident”.

From 2003 to the present, Georgia uses the following definitions from the GA Uniform Vehicle Accident Report Instruction Guide to categorize injuries after a motor vehicle accident:

Killed (K) - The investigating officer records the total number of fatalities, including any delayed deaths that occur within 30 days after the date of the accident. Delayed deaths must be reported to the Department of Transportation.

Serious Injury (A) - Any injury that prevents a person from walking, driving, or engaging in normal activities that they were capable of performing prior to the accident. Serious injuries may include:

  • Severe lacerations that expose or penetrate underlying tissues, muscles, or organs and result in significant bleeding
  • Broken bones or distorted extremities (arm or leg)
  • Crush injuries
  • Severe skull, chest, or abdominal injury
  • Second and third-degree burns over 10% or more of the body
  • Unconsciousness
  • Paralysis

Visible Injury (B) - Any minor injury that is evident to someone besides the injured person at the scene of the accident. Signs may include a lump on the head, abrasions, severe disorientation, shallow cuts, and bruising.

Complaint of Injury (C) - Potential injuries that are claimed or indicated by behavior but not by any visible wounds. These types of injuries are usually internal (e.g., concussions, back pain from herniated discs, hearing loss, etc.), with the injured person possibly complaining of pain, nausea, and other problems not apparent to an observer.

Not injured (O) - The accident victim does not claim to be injured nor appear wounded in any capacity. Some police reports may mark the accident as involving property damage only (PDO).

Why Is the KABCO Injury Scale Important?

First and foremost, having a standardized injury report method means that crash injuries and deaths can be more easily studied. It helps organizations and experts — such as the NHTSA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the GHSA, state DOTs, emergency medical services, safety organizations, academia, etc. — understand road traffic trends and design better safety systems to save lives.

On a personal level, the injured victim can use the KABCO designation on their police crash report as evidence that they were injured if they choose to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Sometimes the KABCO injury category doesn’t match an accident victim’s injuries. At the scene of the wreck, they might have mentioned some discomfort and dizziness, so the investigating officer marks down on their report “C - Complaint of Injury”. However, the injured person realizes the next day or later on that they are actually more injured than they realized. The insurance company may try to use the police report to discredit the injured victim’s story.

Medical records, scans, and treatment can be used as supporting evidence that the person was severely injured (yet another reason why it’s vital to see a doctor as quickly as possible after a wreck).

Insurance companies will use whatever excuses they can to either deny a claim or pay out as small an injury settlement as possible. It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer after a car accident so that you are aware of all your rights and options.

Retrieving a Police Crash Report After an Accident

Having your car accident report on hand is necessary if you want to file a claim for property damage and personal injury. We created an instructional guide on how to quickly obtain your car accident report once the police officer has submitted it.

Filing a personal injury claim can be complicated and frustrating. A severe injury means you are unable to work or travel. You are worried about your finances and future employment.

For help with filing a car accident injury case and retrieving your police crash report, contact the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates. We know how to build a solid case and get the insurance company to offer a settlement that will compensate you for all of your pain and losses.

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