If you were involved in a car accident, one of the first steps you need to take—after being certain that you and any other injured victims receive immediate medical care—is to call the police and make a police report. This is important to do even if the damages to your vehicle are minor, and you do not believe you were injured. Why? Unfortunately, even if you feel fine, you could have suffered a long-term injury like spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, or a traumatic brain injury with symptoms that take days or weeks to develop. Even a minor accident could cause shockingly serious injuries that can limit your ability to work and your day-to-day activities. If you later find yourself in this situation, you will need a copy of the police report to help you get the compensation you are entitled to from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Important Information a Police Report Can Provide
The police report can provide vital information regarding your accident. Officers are trained in assessing vehicle accidents and the officer at the scene will investigate your accident and what caused it. His report could include the following helpful information:
- The date, time, and place of the accident. This can help you prove when the accident occurred.
- Contact information and statements from other drivers, their passengers, and witnesses. You will want to confirm that the officer obtained the contact information for any witnesses and passengers in the other vehicles or obtain the information yourself in case your attorney needs to contact them as potential witnesses in your lawsuit against the driver.
- A description of any injuries the drivers or passengers suffered. You can use this information to help prove your injuries were caused by the crash.
- A narrative of the details of the accident and what he believed caused it. He would note any contributing factors of the other driver—like speeding, having faulty brakes, or talking on his cell phone—that contributed to the crash.
- A diagram of the scene and the point of impact for any vehicles that were hit.
- The weather and road conditions at the time of the crash.
- The damages to the vehicles and any property.
- Pictures of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, and injuries.
- Any tickets that the police officer issued to either driver.
When a police officer is not dispatched, you should obtain as much of the information that would be in the report as possible. You may be able to go to the nearest police station to report the accident. You should always follow up by obtaining a copy of the police report.
How a Police Report Can Be Used In Settling Your Case
The police officer could testify as to his observations at the scene and his conclusions as to the cause of your accident. However, the actual police report would not be admissible in trial. So how can a police report help? Your attorney can use it when he tries to negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company for you. A police report could help your case at this stage in the following ways:
- The insurance adjuster will ask for a copy of the report before negotiating a settlement.
- The police officer is an unbiased witness who has no personal stake in your case. His observations as to what happened, the injuries he saw, and his conclusions as to what caused the accident could be more persuasive than other witness statements.
- The insurance adjuster may be less likely to argue the issue of their driver’s liability when it has been determined by an officer. The adjuster knows that the police officer was at the scene and that a jury would find his testimony believable. He may be more likely to settle your case quickly and for a higher amount
- The police report could lead your attorney to other witnesses that could provide helpful information for negotiating with the insurance company adjuster.
If no one contacted the police after your accident, do not let this stop you from obtaining the compensation you could be entitled to. Call us directly at (706) 863-6600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal options.