Getting a police report following a car accident is a very important step, irrespective of if the incident is a slight fender bender or quite a major collision. Understanding what makes up car accident police reports, when and how to get one – as well as how a police report may be utilized during a car accident settlement or lawsuit – are essential for protecting your legal rights. This article explains when and how to get a report so that your rights will be protected.
What Is a Car Accident Police Report?
A police report is an incident report that is created by a law enforcement officer who reacts to the scene of a car accident. The report, which is taken at the scene of the accident, will include particular details linked to the car crash, statements from drivers and parties who are involved in the accident, witness statements together with other significant details noted by the officer. Police reports are necessary to help make determinations of damage and fault.
What’s in a Car Accident Police Report?
A police officer normally will investigate the scene thoroughly so that they can include many kinds of information in the report. Some of these are facts while others are just the opinions of the police officer.
Instances of factual pieces of information include the date, time, and place of the crash; the identifying information of drivers and any witnesses; weather and road conditions; as well as the areas of the vehicles that were damaged. Also, the police officer may create a diagram of the accident scene and collect statements from parties and witnesses.
By contrast, statements about what caused the collision and who was at fault are opinions. These are not binding and may not align with the views of insurance companies, which will undertake their own investigations.
How and When To Obtain a Car Accident Police Report
As we mentioned above, a police report is created by the investigating officer who responds to a request for help at the scene of a car accident. The police report is an overview of information regarding the car crash — normally containing facts connected with the accident and thoughts of the investigating officer.
There are two ways to get a police report:
- One way will cost you money, while
- The other probably will not.
In order to obtain a paid copy of the police report, you will have to ask for a copy from the local law enforcement office which drafted the report. Prior to leaving the scene of the crash, the investigating officer will usually give you a receipt or card with the ID number for the police report. Phone the traffic division of the local law enforcement agency that responded to the scene of the car accident, pay the administrative costs (approx $15), and you should have no problem getting a copy.
If you do not have – or do not know – the ID number for the police report, you will be able to provide the date and time together with the location of the car accident and your name to assist in locating the report.
To get a free copy of the police report, you could ask the insurance adjuster who is taking care of your claim if they have a copy of the report and request that they give you a copy. Irrespective of how you obtain the police report, it could very well take several weeks for the investigating officer to finish it and then for it to become available to you.
Helpful Reading: Car Safety Checklist
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Car Accident Police Report
There are many FAQs when it comes to car accident police reports. Here are some of them.
What happens if you don’t file a police report after a car accident?
Although most states want you to report the car accident immediately, filing a police report mainly depends on the state that you are in. For example, in Texas, you are required to file a crash report if the accident leads to fatal injuries, death, or property damage worth $1,000 or more.
While filing a police report is not necessary in every single case, leaving the scene of a car accident without filing one (even if both drivers agree) could result in liability disputes and possibly a lower insurance payout to you.
Are Police Reports Admissible in Court?
Even though witness statements in police reports may be hearsay, the statements become admissible if offered up for a purpose other than to prove the veracity of the matter.
Do I need a police report even if no one was hurt?
When two cars are involved in a crash and nobody is injured, the drivers could decide to pay for their repairs and to give up on filing a claim against each other. The police really do not need to be called to the scene of the accident however it must be reported – by both drivers – at a police station within 24 hours.
Do you need assistance with any claims because of a car crash? If so, Coluccio Law can help with this!
Helpful Reading: Who Pays for Car Damage in a No-Fault State