Car accidents are unfortunately very common, but the repercussions and potential long term injuries that may result from a crash should never be taken lightly.
No matter how minor or serious your car accident is, you want to contact the police to investigate and make a police report. Future hospital bills, tests, x-rays, medications, and physical therapy can cost thousands of dollars and cause you even more stress when you worry about how you will pay for it all. At a minimum, your insurance company will need the report to process your claim for repairs to your vehicle. If you need to make a property damage claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company, you must give them a copy of the police report before any settlement will be offered.
Even if you do not think you will file a claim with any insurance company, call the police. You may discover in the days or weeks after the accident that you have symptoms of a medical condition like back and spinal cord injuries, head injuries, or other injuries caused by your accident. These symptoms often do not develop right after a crash. You will make a stronger case by obtaining a police report.
A police report is an excellent, objective way to have a detailed picture of what happened and who was involved. When we work with you, our legal team will use the police report as a fundamental part of our extensive and thorough investigation for you to obtain the best possible result.
What Aspects Should be Included in a Police Report?
Police officers are trained in auto accident assessment and have extensive experience with many types of crashes. Vital information and leads can be included in the report and to help you prove the cause of the crash and the extent of your injuries, both of which are necessary to get the compensation you deserve. Important information your police report could contain includes:
- Accident basics. This is the basic information used to prove that the accident actually occurred. The date, time, location, and people involved are included as well.
- Contact information. The police report will contain contact information regarding the driver, his insurance company, and witnesses to the accident. You will need this information to make a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If there is a dispute as to how the accident happened, witnesses can be a great deal of help. Oftentimes, police reports contain the names of witnesses, but sometimes witness’ contact information is not included which leads you to have to track them down yourself. It is better to request contact information from any witnesses yourself in order to have them corroborate your story should it be necessary.
- Driver statement. The police officer will interview you and the other driver. The report could have admissions or information about what happened by the other driver. Any additional information in the report regarding what the other driver did or said can be used when negotiating your settlement.
- Narrative of events. The police report will contain a narrative of the events leading up to and causing the crash as well as the officer’s conclusions regarding this.
- It is vital that you inform the officer of any immediate injuries in order to have them in the report. That way it is easier to prove that they were a direct result of the crash and not from an earlier incident.
- Vehicle damage. The officer should note his observations of the damages to the vehicles.
- Frequently, the police report will include a diagram that shows how the accident happened.
- Often, police officers include pictures taken at the site of the crash which show vehicle damage, other evidence such as tire marks, and your injuries.
- Weather and road conditions. The report helps you show that the other driver was not exercising reasonable caution while driving, especially if the roads were wet or icy.
The police officer will include whether any ticket was issued in his police report. If the other driver was issued a citation, this will be powerful evidence of his negligence.
How Can You Use the Information Contained in the Police Report?
Although the police report is not admissible at your trial or other court hearing, it is still helpful to your case. Ways a police report can be used include:
- Negotiating your claim. Insurance adjusters value the information in the police report and trust the police officer’s observations while they process your claim. Your attorney can use the police report to show to the insurance adjuster that the other driver was at fault, making it plausible that a settlement will be offered to you.
- Lead to other evidence. Your attorney will no doubt conduct their own investigation and the police report could be a great source of information that could lead to other evidence such as additional witnesses or potential additional liable parties. Also, if your attorney decides to hire an accident reconstruction expert, the report could help an expert reenact the sequence and location of events.
- Police officer testimony. Police officers assist at many car accidents a day. If your case goes to trial, the police officer will use the report to remember what happened. The official observations and conclusions from direct testimony could go a long way in swaying the jury in your favor.
What is the next step? Consult an experienced Attorney at our Firm
At Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh our attorneys have been helping people just like you for over 50 years. We have the experience to step up to powerful insurance companies. We even have lawyers and paralegals who have previously worked for insurance companies and we use their past experience to your advantage. Contact us online or call 732-440-3950 for immediate assistance.