An auto accident police report is important for several reasons. It can be used in several ways when determining liability and damages from injuries sustained in the auto accident.
You have been involved in an auto accident. You have minor injuries. You also have a severe headache and back pain. The accident occurred when another driver ran a stop light and plowed into the side of your vehicle. You have called 911 and reported the accident to the police and requested medical assistance at the site of the crash. Because this accident involves injuries, a police officer will assess the accident scene, talk with the other driver and witnesses, and file a police report on the crash.
This is not the case when your accident is relatively minor. In some jurisdictions, police will not be dispatched to the accident scene. In this case, it will be up to you to gather information about the other driver and the witnesses, get written and signed statements from witnesses, take photos of the accident site and the position of the vehicles involved, as well as damage to those vehicles. You will also need to note any contributing factors to the cause of the crash. Then you must take this information to the local police station and file a police report.
Why should you do this? This is the way to create a record of the events, injuries, causes, and outcomes of the accident. It may prevent others from making other claims of injuries or other damages after the fact that were not due to the accident. The report establishes any injuries sustained, which helps if the injuries become worse over time. This will make it easier for your attorney to demand appropriate compensation. It also establishes a record of the damages to your vehicle. Damage to a vehicle is not always fully visible at the time of a crash. This police report will also prevent the other driver or passengers from overstating injuries from the accident or damages.
What Information is in a Police Report?
The police report is a summary created by a trained accident investigator (the police officer) of the details and cause of the accident. It includes the following information:
- The location of the accident, the date and time on which it occurred.
- Contact information and statements from other drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Driver statements (admissions, descriptions of the accident)
- Descriptions of any injuries sustained in the accident (this proves that the injuries were caused by the accident).
- A rehearsal of the details of the accident and the cause as determined by the police officer.
- Contributing factors affecting drivers (speeding, dui, faulty steering or brakes, talking on a cell phone).
- A drawing of the scene of the accident and the point of impact for any involved vehicles.
- Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
- Damages to the vehicles involved and any property.
- Pictures of the scene of the accident, damage to vehicles, and injuries sustained in the accident.
- Any citations or tickets issued by the police officer to any involved driver.
How is a Police Report Used?
Contrary to popular belief, a police report is not admissible in a trial regarding the accident. Instead, the police officer may be called to testify in a trial.
There are several ways that the police report is important in a matter related to an auto accident. These include:
- Your attorney can use it when negotiating a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company.
- The insurance adjuster will request a copy of the report before negotiations begin.
- The police officer is considered an unbiased witness with no personal stake in the case.
- The insurance adjuster may be less likely to disagree the driver’s liability when it has been established by a police officer.
- The report could lead your attorney to other witnesses who can provide helpful information useful in negotiation with the insurance adjuster.
- Information contained in the police report could lead your attorney to additional helpful evidence or information.
- Testimony by the police officer during a trial would be based on the police report.
The police officer responding to the accident should be able to give you an accident or report number or a service number for the police report so that you can request a copy or have your attorney request a copy. Regardless of which driver is at fault, the police report provides critical information that you will need to have an insurance company settle a claim or to have a personal injury or auto accident attorney file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your injuries and damages. Call Altizer Law, P.C., for your complementary consultation to discuss the nature of your accident and your options for obtaining full and fair compensation. Bettina Altizer and her expert team have been successfully resolving auto accident matters for more than 30 years. They understand that in seeking compensation for your hurts and harms, it’s about the money.