File a Police Report After a Car Accident

After being involved in a car accident of any severity, you should always take the time to call the police and file an official police report. Unfortunately, many people involved in fender benders and crashes with seemingly trustworthy parties ignore this step.

Why, exactly, is this so important? And what can you do to make sure the police report is completed accurately?

Why Police Reports Are Important

Police reports are important for even minor car accidents because of the legal implications of such accidents. If you were personally injured in a car accident, and you’re thinking of taking legal action, a police report about the nature of the accident can strengthen your case. Additionally, without a police report, the other party involved may have more wiggle room to fabricate details and bring a case against you.

In other words, the police report is there for your legal protection. It serves as the following:

  •       An official record of the accident. This isn’t just some random person’s story. A police report is seen as trustworthy and reliable, so it functions as an official record of how the accident happened.
  •       A third-party report of the accident. Each party involved in the accident is motivated to make themselves look as innocent as possible; this can sometimes devolve into a “he said, she said” situation. But a police report is a third-party report of the accident, and is assumed to be unbiased.
  •       An unchanging document. Once the police report is filed, it’s filed. There may be new details that emerge about the accident, but the police report can’t be changed the way a witness statement can.

Information Included in Police Reports

What types of information are included in police reports?

Typically, a police report includes the following:

  •       The location of the accident. The location of the accident will be noted.
  •       The date and time of the accident. In some cases, the time must be approximated.
  •       Damage to vehicles and surroundings. If the vehicles were damaged, the police report will specify the severity and extent of the damage. Police reports also document damage to surroundings, such as barriers, light poles, and buildings.
  •       Parties involved. The police report will specify how many vehicles were involved in the collision and what the nature of those vehicles was. It will also note how many people were involved in the collision, including drivers and passengers in the cars and any pedestrians who were involved.
  •       Injuries sustained by parties involved. Official records should also document any apparent injuries sustained by people involved in the accident.
  •       Statements from others. Most police officers will take statements from parties involved as well as other witnesses to get a complete picture of what happened.

How to File a Police Report After a Car Accident

If you were recently in a car accident, here is how you can file a police report:

  •       Call the police immediately. If anyone has sustained a serious injury in the car accident, getting medical attention should be your first priority. Your next priority should be calling the police. A police officer will be dispatched to the scene, and they’ll take point on filling out and filing the police report; you’ll mostly be providing information to them at their request.
  •       Speak honestly. When the police officer arrives, they’ll probably ask you several questions about how the accident occurred according to your perspective. Do your best to speak honestly and recount the events as thoroughly as possible. If you have a dash camera, this is the time to show or provide the footage.
  •       Gather witnesses. If you want to strengthen your case, look around for anyone who might have seen the accident. Gathering witnesses and securing their statements can make sure the accident is reported as accurately as possible.
  •       Carefully review the report. In most cases, you’ll have the opportunity to review the police report before it’s finalized, so make sure you review it thoroughly. If there are any details that you dispute, or if there are any pieces of information that are missing, speak up.
  •       Obtain a copy of the report. A copy of the police report will be sent to your insurance provider, but it’s also important to obtain a copy of the report for your own records.
  •       Gather your own evidence. Finally, spend some time gathering your own evidence, such as recording witness statements or taking photos and videos of the scene of the accident. It can strengthen your case even further.

Filing a police report is very easy, it doesn’t take very long, so there’s no excuse not to do it. It’s one of the most important things you can do to legally protect yourself after a car accident.