A Police Report Could Provide Vital Information for Your Motor Vehicle Accident Case
You may be tempted not to call the police and report an accident—even if the other driver was at fault—if there is little damage to your vehicle and you don't believe you were hurt. After all, reporting your claim might result in an increase in your insurance premiums.
However, you would be making a big mistake if you avoid a police report. You will need it if you must file a claim later for the repair cost of your vehicle, or you find that you were hurt more than you initially thought.
How a Police Report Can Help Your Claim for Compensation
For technical and legal reasons, police reports are not admissible evidence at trial. However, they can provide important information that helps your attorney negotiate a favorable settlement for you. The police report could contain these types of valuable information:
- Contact information. The police report contains contact information for
the negligent driver, any passengers in the vehicles involved, and the policy number and contact information for the other driver’s insurance company. It will also hopefully include the contact information for any witnesses to your crash, although it's always best to obtain this information yourself to not risk losing it.
- Other driver statement. The police officer will interview the other driver and note what she says about the cause of the accident in the police report. If the driver later changes her story as to what occurred, you may be able to use her prior statement to raise questions about credibility.
- Police observations. The report should contain the police officer’s observations about the drivers involved in the crash, road and weather conditions, skid marks, other damage caused in the accident, and whether either driver was issued a citation. This could be vital in establishing how the accident occurred—and proving the other driver’s negligence.
- Diagram and pictures. Depending on how thorough the investigation is, the police report could contain a diagram of the crash scene and pictures of it.
- Witness statements. While you should not rely on the police officer to interview witnesses, he may do so and would summarize the interviews in his report.
- Insurance companies. If you need to make a claim with your insurance company or the negligent driver’s insurance company, the adjuster needs the police report to evaluate your claim.
- Settlement negotiations. Although not admissible in court, the police report can be persuasive evidence of the other driver’s negligence and make it easier for your attorney to negotiate a favorable settlement with the insurance adjuster.
What happens if you didn't obtain a police report? While it may affect the amount of your settlement, it will not stop you from receiving compensation for your injuries. However, hiring an experienced car accident attorney is vital. In my many years of practice, I've helped accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve even if they didn't have a police report. Call me at 888.716.8021 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal options.