Filing a police report after a car accident is critical for various reasons, and in some cases, it is required by law. For instance, some states make it mandatory to file a police report if the car accident caused injury, death, or property damage of over $1000.
Since it can be so difficult to estimate the cost of damages at the accident scene and some injuries may only start to manifest a few days later, it is always a good idea to file a police report to be on the safe side of the law.
For instance, while all parties involved in the accident may agree that the damage won’t exceed a certain amount, it is possible to discover that they are much more expensive after a professional evaluation.
Failure to file a police report when the law requires you to do so may result in a suspended driver’s license, hefty fines, and even a jail term. In most cases, you have up to ten days to file a report, but you can do so immediately after an accident by calling 911.
How Do I File a Police Report After a Car Accident?
Now that you know what is contained in a police report and when you should file it, you may be asking yourself how a police report is actually filed. Follow the steps outlined below to ensure your car accident is fully documented by a law enforcement officer:
- Call the police immediately while you are still at the accident scene. This should always be your first call unless you require urgent medical attention.
- Discuss your car accident’s critical details with the police officer and answer a series of questions he/she may ask you in the process. The same police officer will also interview the other parties involved in the accident to establish the true cause of the accident.
- Ensure you obtain a copy of the police report. You should send a copy of the report to your auto insurance company and share another copy with your car accident lawyer.
How Do I Get a Copy of the Car Accident Report?
There are two ways to obtain your police report. One way may cost you some money, the other probably not.
To obtain a paid copy of your car accident police report, you have to request it from the local police officer that drafted the report. Before leaving the accident scene, the officer will give you a receipt with the unique identification number of your police report.
Call the traffic division of the local law enforcement agency that responded to your car accident scene, pay a small administrative fee, and obtain a copy of your police report.
If you don’t have the identification number of your police report, you can always provide the date, time, and location of the car crash along with your official name to help the traffic department in locating your police report.
If you want to obtain a free copy of the report, ask your insurance adjuster if they have obtained it from the police department and request a copy from them.
What If the Police Don’t Come to the Accident Scene?
In some cases, police may fail to come to the accident scene for various reasons. For instance, some states don’t require police officers to go to the scene if the property damage value is too low or no injuries have been sustained by those involved in the accident.
Police may also fail to appear if there is a public disaster or emergency elsewhere and are too busy on the other side.
It is your primary responsibility to call the police when you are involved in an auto accident, but you can’t determine whether they come to the scene or not. If they don’t come, ensure you record all the crash details, including any injuries you may have sustained and damage to your car.
You can do this using your phone camera. Also, find some eyewitnesses and take their contact details. Once you have collected all the necessary information, visit a police station as soon as possible and file a report.
You will need to file your own report and auto insurance claim if the police officers are not there to help you. In some states, you can file the police report online.
A police report is a written document detailing the facts surrounding a car accident. It is important to file a police report after a car accident because it provides an official record of what happened.
Police reports can be used to help settle insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. If you are involved in a car accident, call the police immediately and ask for a copy of the police report.
You may have to pay a small fee to obtain a copy of the report, but it will be worth it in the long run.