Obtaining a Police Report After a Car Accident

News » Obtaining a Police Report After a Car Accident

The moments after a car accident can be overwhelming and confusing, and the process following can be just as stressful.

Regardless of the severity of a car accident, you should always call the police and make sure things are documented and a crash report is on file.

Police reports are crucial pieces of evidence when dealing with an insurance company or fighting your car accident case in court. Police reports can give credence to your side of the story and shut down any possibility of the at-fault drivers involved getting away with their negligence.

In this blog we will discuss what to do after a car wreck, what a police report is, and how a police report can help validate your claim.

What to Do After a Car Accident

If you've been involved in a car crash, you should take the following steps to ensure that you and your passengers are safe and legally protected:

  1. Do not leave the scene of the accident.

  2. Call 911 and wait for a police officer to arrive on scene.

  3. While waiting for a responding law enforcement officer, follow any instructions given to you over the phone. If told to move to a safe location, do so.

  4. Be polite to all individuals, including the police, but do not admit fault at any point.

  5. Collect any evidence of the scene: pictures, videos, contact information of individuals involved, and the name and badge number of responding law enforcement.

  6. Request a crash receipt from the relevant police department of the responding officer. The crash receipt will contain identifying information for you to obtain a police report.

  7. Keep track of all costs associated with your accident including medical bills and vehicle repairs.

The decisions you make after an accident can greatly influence the outcome of an insurance claim and/or lawsuit.

What is a Police Report for a Car Accident?

A police report, or an accident report, is filled out by the police officer responding to the scene and logged with the relevant law enforcement agency of the responding officer. This could be local police, state police, university police, etc.

Police reports often contain the following information:

  • Vehicles and parties involved

  • Property damage and whether injury occurred

  • Statements from witnesses and those involved in the car crash

  • Diagrams drawn of how the collision occurred

  • Written interpretation of how the accident occurred according to the investigating officer.

The details included in the police report can greatly influence how an insurance company or court may view your case or claim.

Be sure to describe the events of the collision to a responding police officer and give all the information possible WITHOUT admitting fault. Fault determinations will be made after the fact if you do not admit fault. An attorney can help you either plead or defend your case.

How Do I Obtain a Copy of the Police Report for my Car Accident?

The responding police officer will give you a "crash receipt" that contains a case file number that can be used to request the police report.

Depending on the jurisdiction where your accident happened, you may be able to request a free copy of the police report. Simply call the police department (non-emergency or office line), and request a copy of the report, or visit the department's website for more information.

In some jurisdictions, you may have to pay an administrative fee for the full report. If this is the case, the fee will often be fairly inexpensive. Your insurance adjuster may also have the accident report on file, and you can request that from them for free.

Police reports can sometimes be hard to obtain in larger cities like Chicago, especially if a commercial vehicle was involved. A vehicle accident attorney often has the resources to help.

Why is a Police Report Necessary if No Injury Occurred?

While it is not required to obtain a police report if no one was hurt in a car accident, it may still be beneficial. This is especially true if there is significant damage to the vehicle, in which case it will help with a claim. Also, if there are any witnesses, their statements will be helpful in the future.

Are Police Reports Admissible in Court?

In small claims court, a police report may be used as evidence as cases are often handled without legal representation and the court understands that the average person doesn't have extensive knowledge on the legal process.

In a state court, evidence is generally held to a higher standard and a police report can be argued as hearsay evidence. If your motor vehicle accident case is sent to a higher court, an attorney will be able to help gather evidence regardless of what is contained on the police report.

How Does an Insurance Company Use a Police Report?

Insurance adjusters will use a police report in processing a claim. Police reports help to determine who is at fault in the accident, and will also provide contact information for those involved, as well as witnesses and the name of the investigating officer.

When dealing with insurance companies, it's crucial that you tell the truth. You can face harsh consequences for lying to an insurance company about the details of an accident. The

If there are discrepancies between the police report and the account given by the drivers involved, insurance adjusters will conduct their own investigation.

If you have any questions about how insurance companies will use a police report, contact a car accident attorney for more details on your specific case.

When Do I Need to File an Insurance Claim?

Though it is best to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident, you may be able to file a claim months after the date of the accident without concern, especially if you are recovering from a related injury.

Our attorneys recommend contacting your insurance provider soon after the date of the accident so that your memory of the events of the collision are clear.

Hiring an Attorney for Your Car Accident Claim

After a person has been involved in a car accident, they may be injured, confused by the process of an insurance claim, questioning the details on a police report, and generally overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation at hand.

An experienced car accident attorney can help a person suffering from the aftermath of a car crash understand their legal rights and put them on track to obtain compensation they deserve.

Your attorney can read into the police report produced from your accident and determine the best course of action. An attorney will also deal with the insurance company handling your claim, as well as the at-fault driver's insurance company (which would end up being the defendant in a car accident case).

Gathering Evidence for a Car Accident Case

A car accident lawyer will help you gather all evidence relevant to your case. Evidence for a car accident case often include:

  • Police Report

  • Witness information

  • A self report describing your interpretation of the car crash

  • Medical bills

  • Property damage and repair bills

  • Photos, videos, and other documentary evidence.

Assessing Damages

An attorney will also help determine the damages, or monetary and non-monetary costs, of the car accident. Damages typically include:

  • Medical expenses

  • Lost income or wages

  • Property damage and car repairs

  • Other property damaged

  • Pain and suffering damages

  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

  • Mental anguish and emotional damages

  • Loss of consortium, earning capacity, and other emotional and financial losses

  • Other compensatory and punitive damages

TorHoerman Law: Experienced Car Accident Attorneys

With law offices in Edwardsville (IL), St. Louis, and Chicago, our attorneys can help you attain complete financial recovery after an accident. Regardless of your location, our team can help you file suit and recover compensation for your injuries and damages.

Learn more about vehicle accidents and how our lawyers can help you here.

Consider TorHoerman Law in your search for an attorney. Contact us for a free consultation.

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