In the aftermath of a car accident, it can feel like there are a hundred things to worry about. The first and foremost priority should always be the health and safety of you, your passengers, and any other people involved in the accident. After that, it’s dealing with any property damage, contacting your insurance provider, exchanging insurance information, taking pictures, and asking witnesses for contact information.
For nearly all serious accidents, the police will be contacted and officers will come to the scene of the accident to conduct an investigation. If there were any law violations, a police officer will issue a citation or possibly make an arrest. Whether there was a violation or not, the police will create and submit a detailed report of the accident. Even in cases where police do not come to the scene, it is still possible and recommended to file a police report.
Having a police report after an accident is a crucial step that can help protect your rights and assets and ensure you receive any compensation you are entitled to after an accident. This guide provides key information about police reports, including how to obtain one and how an experienced car accident lawyer can help you in the aftermath of a car accident.
What is a Car Accident Police Report?
A police report is the collection of observations and notes made by the officer responding to an automobile crash scene. This will serve as an official record of the incident and contain essential information about the events and any preliminary findings from the investigation.
Police reports are admissible in court and commonly used by parties involved in the accident, including insurance companies and attorneys.
What Is Usually Contained In The Report?
The exact format may vary according to the police department, city, or state where the accident occurred, but police reports usually contain the following basic information:
- Time, date, and location of the accident
- Details about the weather and road conditions at the scene
- Details about the vehicles involved, including make, model, year, license plate numbers, and vehicle registration
- An attempted recreation of the accident, including speeds, collision type, road type, intersection, extent of property damage, and a diagram of the incident
- Description of any injuries or fatalities, and the names of any people receiving medical attention
- Details about potential criminal or negligent activity, such as speeding, ignoring traffic control devices, driving while intoxicated, or driving recklessly
When speaking to the police after a car accident, always be cooperative and truthful, and provide as much information as possible while not admitting fault. Try to keep a clear head and remember as many details as possible. If any mitigating details could reduce your liability, such as seeing the other driver speeding or swerving, it is important to get them on the record as early as possible.
Do Police Always Make An Accident Report?
In Florida, people involved in an accident are required to contact the police for serious accidents involving significant property damage, if someone is complaining of pain, if there were drugs or alcohol involved, if a commercial vehicle is involved, or a fatality. But anyone involved in an accident should usually err on the side of caution and call the police.
Due to circumstances, if the accident is relatively minor or if police resources are needed elsewhere, a police officer may not be dispatched to the scene. In these circumstances, the parties involved in the accident have 10 days to file a police report.
You should include as much of the above information as possible when making this report. This is why it is critical to collect information at the scene of the accident, especially if an officer does not arrive.
How to Obtain a Copy of the Report
Police reports are public records. In most cases, you can obtain a copy by contacting your local police department and requesting a copy. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also has resources for requesting police reports, including accident reports.
To obtain a copy of a police report, parties are required to present a valid driver’s license or other suitable identification and provide a sworn statement that they were involved in the accident.
Why Insurance Companies Use Police Reports
Although car insurance companies do not always require a police report to claim an auto accident, it can expedite the process and make claim approval easier. Insurance companies will investigate the facts of the case to determine the validity of the claim and reach an amount of compensation for medical expenses and property damage. A police report is a key supporting document for an insurance adjuster or investigator during this process because police officers are impartial third parties who are professionally trained to investigate and judge a car accident.
How an Attorney Can Help With a Police Report
During a car accident investigation and insurance settlement process, working with an attorney can help ensure that your interests and assets are protected. In any case, a police report will be an essential legal document that will tell a lawyer what was officially reported about the accident and the information other parties have access to.
If you need assistance accessing a police report, an attorney can help you obtain a copy. Additionally, in circumstances where a police report needs to be amended or corrected, a lawyer can help you through this potentially difficult and time-consuming process.
In situations where a police report was not filed and it has been longer than 10 days, a car accident attorney can advise you on how best to proceed.
Call Clark Law for Legal Assistance After a Car Accident
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident and needs help making, obtaining, amending, or correcting a police report, or any legal assistance, contact our team at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation online. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.