Getting involved in a car accident can be a very traumatic experience, and it’s crucial to ensure that the details of the incident are documented appropriately, regardless of whether it’s a minor fender bender or a severe collision. Therefore, one of the first things you should do after a car accident is to obtain a police report.
Indeed, a police report is a valuable tool in resolving any insurance claims, car accident settlements, or lawsuits that may arise in the aftermath of the accident. Thankfully, this article will teach you everything from what a police report is to when and how to get one after an accident. Read on to discover more.
What Is a Car Accident Police Report?
A car accident police report is an official document usually written by the responding law enforcement officer at an accident scene. It provides an official record of the details of the crash and information such as:
● Approximate time, date, and location of the accident.
● The names and contact information (address, phone number, and insurance information) of the drivers and passengers involved in the accident.
● Details of all properties and vehicles (the make, model, and license plate number) involved in the accident.
● Statements from the drivers, witnesses, and other parties involved.
● A diagram of the accident that shows the location, vehicle path, and point of collision.
● A description of how and why the accident occurred and the damage to vehicles, properties, and persons involved.
● And the responding officer’s conclusion and assessment of the accident.
These reports are necessary for determining the extent of damage and the driver at fault after a car accident. Plus, it is also important in making insurance claims. This may be why car accident lawyers often emphasize the contents of such reports, especially if the officer’s evaluations point to one driver at fault. Because of the significance of police reports, it is essential to obtain one anytime you are in an accident, even if the accident is a minor one.
Why Do I Need a Police Report?
A police report provides an accurate record of the events that led up to the accident, so it’s crucial to obtain one for the following reasons:
● Legal documentation: A police report is the official documentation of the accident and can be used as evidence in court if necessary.
● Insurance purposes: Insurance companies often require this report to process claims, determine who is mostly or totally at fault for the accident, and establish the value of your compensation claim.
● Protection against fraud: A police report provides an accurate account of the events and the damage’s extent, which helps prevent fraudulent insurance claims.
In some cases, like in Florida, failure to file a police report may result in a suspended driver’s license, hefty fines, and even a jail sentence. This is why you should report the accident as soon as possible—no later than ten days—but you can do it immediately on the spot by calling 911.
How to Obtain a Car Accident Police Report?
Now that you know what is contained in a police report and why you need it, the next thing you should know is how to obtain one after an accident.
The first step in getting a police report after an accident is to bring a police officer to the scene if there isn’t one yet. Then, while you are still at the scene, call 911 to confirm that law enforcement and emergency personnel have been sent to the scene. 911 should be your first call unless you or someone at the scene needs urgent medical attention.
When the law enforcement officers arrive, discuss the car accident details and answer all the questions they may have. Do not admit faults. Instead, speak only about the facts of the accident. They will also interview the other parties involved to get their side of the story, which will be included in the police report.
Before the law enforcement officers leave the scene, ensure you ask for their names, badge numbers, and incident report numbers, which you will need to obtain a copy of the police report later.
How to Get a Copy of a Police Report
There are two ways to get a copy of your police report. One will cost you money, but the other won’t.
First, you can ask the local police officer who drafted the report for a copy. Then, if you have the incident report number, you can contact the traffic division of the responding officer’s agency, and they should be able to provide you with a copy. However, you will need to pay an administrative fee, usually around $15.
If you do not have the incident report number, the agency can still help you locate your police report by providing the date, time, location, and names of the people involved in the accident.
Alternatively, you can contact your insurance company to check whether they have already obtained the report from the police department. In this case, you can request a copy without fees.
Please note that it may take up to a few weeks after the accident before the police report becomes available.
Are Accident Reports Necessary Even if No One Was Hurt?
Yes, even if no one was injured in a car accident, it is still necessary to obtain a police report. A police report provides all the necessary information to support your accident claim. This can come in handy in cases where your insurance company is contesting your claim and believes you’re at fault for the collision.
Additionally, a police report is crucial evidence you can use in court if the other party files a lawsuit.
Coleman Law Group Can Help You
Of course, you can contact your car accident lawyer or personal injury attorney to help you get a police report. Your lawyer can also help you analyze the report’s content and decide how best to use it for your case.
Surely, you should contact us at Coleman Law Group now, and let’s help you make the most out of your car accident case.