What You Need to Know About Police Accident Reports
One of the reasons why it is important to call the police after a car accident is so the responding officer can write a report of the accident. This is an official account of what happened, and it is important to have when you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. The insurance company uses it as evidence to determine liability and calculate damages. If you’ve never been in an accident before, you may not know very much about the police report. Here are some things you should know.
1. What Is in the Report?
The police report contains a written account of how the accident occurred, as well as diagrams of the accident scene. When gathering information for the report, police may record lighting, roadway, and weather conditions; make measurements; take statements from witnesses; etc. The report will contain both the objective facts of the case and the officer’s subjective opinion about who is at fault. It may be a few weeks before the report is available.
The insurance company will consider the officer’s opinion as expressed in the report when drawing its own conclusions about liability for the accident. However, it does not have to adopt the police officer’s opinion and may form one that is quite different.
2. How Do You Obtain an Accident Report?
There are two ways to request an accident report. You can contact the claims representative at your insurance company to see if they can provide you with a copy. They may be able to do this for you if they have already requested a copy of the report.
If your insurance company doesn’t have it, however, you will have to request it directly from the police department. This will cost you a nominal administrative fee. You will need to be able to provide either the identification number for the report, which the officer will provide you at the scene, or the location, date, and time of the accident.
3. Why Do You Need the Police Report?
The police report may not be admissible in court because it may be considered hearsay evidence, since it is a statement that was made out of court. Nevertheless, the information that the report contains can be very helpful to you in negotiating a settlement with the insurance company for damages.
The rules that govern the report’s admissibility, as well as the procedure for obtaining it, vary by jurisdiction. Our attorneys at PIOLETTI PIOLETTI & NICHOLS, are experienced car accident attorneys and may be helpful to you in gathering evidence and presenting it in court. Schedule a consultation by contacting our office.