After an automobile accident, you might think that you do not need to file a police report. However, if you may seek compensation later, that police report is one of the most valuable pieces of evidence you could have in your arsenal. Therefore, even if an accident seems “minor,” you may want to reconsider skipping out on filing a police report.
Top Reasons to Get a Police Report for Your Indianapolis Accident
A police report provides documentation about the accident, and it is a third-party, unbiased report on what happened. After all, the officer has nothing to gain by what is in the report, and what they write in that report tells the court what happened. If you think a police report is not a critical piece of evidence in an accident claim, here are a few reasons to reconsider:
- A police report contains witness statements and contact information. After an accident, you may be unable to collect witness contact information, especially if you are seriously injured. Luckily, the police report may have witness statements in it, including the witness’s contact information so that your attorney can follow up with those witnesses later for a more official statement.
- The report contains the basic who, what, when, where, why, and how. A key component of your police report is the details. It will include the date and time of the accident, where the accident occurred, damage to the vehicles involved, the make/model/license plate of all vehicles involved, drivers in the crash, insurance companies, and passenger information. It will also note road conditions and weather at the time the report was made.
- Initial injuries are reported in the accident report too. The police officer should include information about any injuries at the scene. It also documents the damage to your vehicle, which you could use later to prove that the accident was severe enough to cause your injuries. This information is essential because not all accident symptoms show up right away; therefore, having an accident report detail the damage to your vehicle helps prove that your whiplash or delayed symptoms were real.
- A police report has information about any party that received a citation. One of the easier ways to prove that one side was negligent is by having a police report. If the police report shows that one party received a citation for speeding, drunk driving, or any other infraction, it makes it easier for the plaintiff to prove that the other side breached his or her duty of care.
- A police report helps in the event of a hit and run. A significant use for a police report comes from a hit and run accident. You cannot recover in a hit and run if you do not report the incident to the police. Hit and run incidents are when one vehicle flees the scene of the accident after causing the collision.
- You need a police report to access your insurance benefits. If you are injured in an accident, and the other party does not have adequate insurance, you may be able to use your own Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but only if you have a police report. Without a police report, insurance companies may not accept your claim or pay out on an accident.
It is the Law to Report an Accident
Did you know that you are required by law to report accidents when damages exceed $1,000, or there are injuries? Therefore, if you fail to file a police report, you could face citations or even jail time depending on the number of injuries and the cost of the property damage. Also, if you were to leave the scene without filing an accident report, you could be charged with a hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident. So, it is in your best interest to file the police report.
Police Reports: Fact versus Opinion
Police reports are not solely facts. Instead, they are a combination of fact and opinion. While the date, time, and location of the incident is a fact, the rest is typically opinion – including any assignment of fault. Therefore, you must realize that these documents only carry so much weight. Sometimes an insurance company will feel that the party at fault for an accident is not the same as what the officer dictates in his or her report.
Insurance Companies Still Conduct Their Investigation
While you might have a police report, the insurance company is still going to do their own investigation. When the accident is reported to the insurance company, they will request a copy of the police report. This is because the content of that statement contains valuable information that helps the insurance company do their investigation.
Is a Police Report Admissible in Court?
Police reports are used during settlement negotiations, but they are not always admissible in court. Sometimes a judge will admit them, while other times a judge considers them hearsay. Regardless of whether your police report is admitted into evidence or not, you still need a report filed for your incident. It will aid your attorney during settlement negotiations, and because most injury claims settle out of court, it can be an extremely valuable piece of evidence. Don’t pass it up.
Meet with an Injury Attorney about Your Automobile Accident
If you were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, speak with an accident attorney from Jacobs Law, LLC. Our advocates are here to help you with your injury case, and we will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. We can help you collect evidence, including police reports, to help prove your case. Our team can also use police reports for more effective negotiations and hopefully speed up the process so that you receive your compensation quickly. To explore your options, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by calling our office or connecting with a team member online.