May 24, 2024

How Long Does It Take to Get a Police Report?

Person filling out an accident report form on a clipboard with blurred traffic and a tow truck in the background

We understand that your life can seem like a whirlwind in the hours, days, weeks, and months after an unexpected and dangerous incident. Car accidents, assaults, boating accidents, and more can be very traumatic experiences. The trauma can extend beyond the incident itself. You may have suffered injuries that affect you both physically and emotionally. That doesn't even address the financial ramifications of accidents and violent assaults. You may have to deal with the fallout for a long time. When your life is turned upside down because of the negligent actions of another, you may even lose out on work hours because you have to handle burdensome issues, like doctor's appointments and trips to the auto body repair shop. These expenses shouldn't be on you if another party is to blame.

All of these things put together can have an overwhelming impact, and you may only understand the complete picture once you see the bills coming in with no way to pay for them. That's where Morgan and Morgan come in. We can help provide you with answers to your questions, such as "how long does it take to get a police report? How can a lawyer help me, and what kind of compensation can I expect with a successful claim?" Since you have questions concerning the timeframe to receive a police report, we'll start going over the particulars of police reports and the value they offer litigants pursuing compensation from wrongdoers first.

To get started, contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.


What Is the Timeline for Getting a Police Report After an Accident?

The timeline to get a police report will vary depending on the jurisdiction that handles it. The responding agency will also be a factor. Some have no set standards, so you could look at anywhere from a day to up to four weeks or even longer. It's important to ask the responding officer if they can give you an idea, but don't expect any guarantee.

Law enforcement needs time to process police reports before providing them to the parties involved. We understand it's frustrating to have to wait, especially if it's holding up the claims process. The reasons behind delays are out of your hands, and bureaucratic agencies like police departments have a lot on their plate. However, when you ask, "How long does it take to get a police report?"—there is one thing you can do to ensure you get it as quickly as possible: confirm that you've filled out the process request fully and accurately. That way, you don't unintentionally delay the process even further. You can check in to see the report's status, but expect it to arrive within a few days of the stated timeframe. It may even come to you early if you're lucky and the number of pending document requests is low.


Why Are Police Reports Valuable Pieces of Evidence?

All too often, people underestimate the value of a police report and don't contact law enforcement when they should. It may be because you felt sorry for a teenager that collided with you without a driver's license and insurance, or you may have felt the damage was minor after a physical altercation and didn't notice physical pain at the time. You may even trust that the other party will act decent and ethically concerning paying for the damage they caused. We hear this a lot. Right after an accident or incident, your emotions are running high, and you may feel relieved that it didn't end up worse. It's natural to show concern for others, especially if they are injured. They may apologize and reassure you that they accept the blame and will make it right.

Unfortunately, putting your trust in people who have just committed a negligent act is not a good idea. That kid who was driving without a license and insurance knew what they were doing was wrong and did it anyway. Likewise, the guy you fought with after the football game might change his tune after seeing a $1000 hospital bill for your concussion. After emotions have settled and they have to pay the piper, they may change their tune and, more importantly, their story. This leaves you stuck trying to convince an insurance adjuster or judge of what went down that day.

It's a sad state of affairs, we know, but you really shouldn't trust the honesty of others. People often begin to act strangely when money is at stake, even if they know they are in the wrong. That's why getting a police report is crucial. A police report is meant to provide an objective view of the facts of an incident. Generally, a responding officer is not there to take sides. The information they record is often deemed more reliable than those personally involved. That's why a police report is a valuable piece of evidence. Likewise, it's not unheard of for people to embellish a story afterward to put them in a better light or, in some cases, to get you to pay for damage you had no responsibility for causing.

For example, suppose you got into a minor car accident. The other party says they feel fine, and the two of you are walking around assessing damage and making small talk. You exchange insurance information and proceed with your day, expecting insurance to take care of it. Now a few weeks have gone by, and your insurance company informs you that the other party is claiming to have a severe knee injury that will require a total knee replacement to repair.

This kind of surgery costs around $35,000, and you only carry the minimum body injury liability of $25,000. Without a police report, you have no way of countering that claim. Now you're looking at paying $10,000 out of pocket when you know, good and well, that person was fine after the accident, just like they said. Instead, they likely had some other sort of accident in the interim and are looking for a fall guy to take the blame. A police report could have taken care of all of this.

Likewise, without a police report, your insurance company may be suspicious of your injury claims. Unfortunately, that's how insurance companies work. If they have a chance to deny a claim because of a lack of evidence, they might take it unless you have other ways of proving the validity of your claim.


What Does a Police Report Contain?

Depending on what kind of incident took place, the responding officers will carry out an investigation, which can include talking to people who saw the incident, inspecting involved vehicles, taking measurements, writing detailed notes, and photographing the scene. All of these actions are in preparation for generating a police report. The actual report is a recap of the investigation, which may include the following depending on the purpose of the emergency call:

  • The date, time, and location of the incident
  • Contact information of the parties involved, including phone numbers, emails, addresses, names, and insurance information
  • Contact information of witnesses
  • Location of damaged property (vehicles, etc.)
  • Documentation of physical injuries sustained by involved parties
  • Environmental conditions that may have attributed to the accident
  • A diagram of the scene, including the position of vehicles, road signs, stop lights, traffic patterns, speed limits, etc.
  • Statements from involved parties and witnesses
  • Citations and law violations
  • Opinions concerning the cause of the accident or the altercation and a fault determination


How Do Insurance Companies Regard Police Reports?

Insurance companies use the information in a police report as a guideline. Still, they perform their own investigation and rely on their adjusters to make a final conclusion. One of the first things an insurance company will ask for is a police report because it contains vital information that can help an insurance adjuster arrive at a decision regarding liability. However, even if the police report offers an opinion favorable to you, the insurance adjuster may decide differently. That's when having a Morgan and Morgan attorney as your advocate might make a difference.

While facts are facts, opinions can sometimes be persuaded if you present evidence in a different light. For example, suppose an insurance adjuster concludes that you are at fault. In that case, we may be able to perform some background investigation into the scene of the accident. For instance, we may find that an unusually high number of accidents similar to yours happen in an intersection at a certain time of day. It could be that there is some fault in the engineering of the intersection that makes it riskier at certain times of the day. If we can provide evidence, it may sway the opinion in your favor.

That kind of in-depth investigation is not something that an emergency responder would perform. Still, their instincts were right to conclude the accident wasn't your fault or that environmental factors had something to do with it.


How Can Morgan and Morgan Help Me?

As we just mentioned, although police reports are valuable evidence that shouldn't be overlooked, they are not conclusive. When you work with an attorney concerning your legal matter, you have a strong ally looking to provide you with the best path forward to recover compensation. That often includes going above and beyond what responding law enforcement will do. For example, unless the accident is a very serious one with fatalities, they probably won't take the time to approach surrounding businesses and residences to find security footage. These extra steps could make all the difference in your ability to receive compensation, especially when the fault is in question.

Likewise, law enforcement won't look at patterns and statistics and delve into the other party's history. Maybe the other party has a history of insurance claim abuse, or perhaps they posted something on social media about expecting a big insurance settlement from a sucker that didn't get a police report. Although insurance companies do their own investigation, there may be something they missed or purposefully disregarded because it suits their own interest. When you have Morgan and Morgan on your side, you can be assured that your interests are the top priority.


What Kind of Compensation Could I Get for an Insurance Claim?

One of the most important questions you may have is what you can expect from an insurance claim. That depends on many factors, which may include the following:

  • How many parties were involved
  • The insurance policy limits of the involved parties
  • Your insurance company
  • What state the incident took place
  • The strength of the evidence
  • The cost of medical treatment
  • Whether lost income is an aspect
  • The extent of your pain and suffering
  • How has the incident impacted your quality of life
  • Other losses and expenses incurred

The circumstances surrounding your incident matter greatly, and so does your legal representation. Morgan and Morgan have worked to help thousands and thousands of individuals like yourself recover the compensation they deserve when the negligent actions of another person cause them harm. If you're wondering, "how long does it take to get a police report," you might be in the early stages of dealing with a legal nightmare. But you don't have to deal with this alone. We can take charge and make a substantial difference in your chances of success and even the amount you receive for compensation. When you have a lawyer representing you, others who might take advantage are notified that you mean business.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We handle all manner of personal injury cases, including those that benefit from police involvement.