A Police Report Is Vital Evidence in Your Auto Accident Case
No matter how minor or serious your car accident is, you want to contact the police to investigate and make a police report. Why? At a minimum, you will need the report for your own insurance company to make a claim for your vehicle repairs. If you were injured or need to make a property damage claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company, you will need to provide the adjuster with a copy of the police report before he will offer anything in settlement.
Even if you do not think you will file a claim with any insurance company, call the police. Unfortunately, you may discover in the days or weeks after the accident that you experience symptoms of a medical condition like back and spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain damage, other head injuries, or internal bleeding caused by your accident. These symptoms often do not develop right after a crash. You will have strengthened your case by obtaining a police report if this happens to you.
Helpful Information the Police Report Could Contain
Police officers are trained in auto accident assessment and have extensive experience with many types of crashes. Their report can include vital information and leads to evidence that will help you prove the cause of the wreck and your injuries—both necessary to obtaining the compensation you deserve. Important information your police report could contain includes:
- Accident basics. The police report will contain the basics of the date, time, and place of the accident. This can be important to prove that the incident happened.
- 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, you may want to contact witnesses who were at the scene who can hopefully corroborate your version of events. However, you should not rely on the police officer to obtain contact information for potential witnesses. If possible, you want to collect this information yourself in case the officer is not that thorough.
- Driver statement. The police officer will interview the other driver and you. The police report could contain admissions or a statement as to what happened by the other driver that may be helpful when negotiating your settlement with his insurance company.
- 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.
- Injuries. The police report should contain information regarding the injuries any other victims and you suffered. This will help you prove that the crash—not some other event—caused your injuries.
- Vehicle damage. The officer should note his observations of the damages to the vehicles in the police report. If he conducts a thorough investigation, the report could also mention other property that was damaged.
- Diagram. The police report could include a diagram of the accident scene and the point of impact of the vehicles involved.
- Pictures. Depending on the severity of the crash, the police officer could take pictures of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, and the injuries you suffered.
- Weather and road conditions. The report could contain important information regarding the weather or road conditions that can help you show that the other driver was not exercising reasonable care in his driving.
- Tickets. 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 You Can 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 put great weight on the police report and police officer’s observations when evaluating your claim. Your attorney can use the police report to convince the adjuster of the other driver’s fault, making it more likely that he will negotiate a favorable settlement for you.
- Lead to other evidence. Your attorney should conduct his own investigation of the accident. The police report could provide him with information that could lead to other helpful evidence, such as additional witnesses or other potentially liable parties. In addition, if your attorney decides to hire an accident reconstruction expert, the report could help an expert reenact the sequence of events.
- Police officer testimony. If your case goes to trial, the police officer may need to testify on your behalf. His testimony as to his observations and conclusions could go a long way in swaying the jury in your favor. He will rely on the police report to remember what happened.
If you or a loved one was injured in an automobile collision, start an online chat or call our firm at (404) 998-5252 to schedule a free case evaluation with David Brauns.