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How to File a Police Report

In most accidents with damages and injuries, law enforcement officers attend the scene and draft an accident report. However, knowing how to file a police report or correct errors in a police report can help protect your rights, as the document could become essential for proving your insurance claim or legal case.

You don’t have to struggle with a police report or car accident claim alone. Consider consulting an attorney if you suffered significant injuries or car damage. Morgan & Morgan’s tenacious and motivated car accident lawyers could help to maximize your settlement. We are here for you 24/7. Contact us today to determine your next best steps in a free case review.

What Is a Police Report?

When a car accident occurs, law enforcement typically attends the scene to investigate and document what happened. The attending police officer typically fills out a written accident record. Here’s what you need to know about police reports:

  • A police accident report is an official document documenting the details of a car accident.
  • The document typically includes information such as the accident’s date, time, and location and the names and contact information of everyone involved.
  • The report also contains a description of the accident, including how it occurred, the extent of the damage to the vehicles, and any injuries sustained.
  • The officer may include observations and conclusions about what or who caused the accident in the documentation.
  • The report may also include statements from all involved persons and witnesses.
  • Accident reports can also include diagrams or photos of the accident scene to help illustrate what happened.
  • Any citations at the accident scene would also be noted in the report.

The information in a police car accident report can be used by insurance companies, lawyers, and others involved in legal proceedings related to the accident. Therefore, the details must be as accurate and as complete as possible.

Filing a Police Report

Knowing how to file a police report can be crucial. The document provides an official record of the accident, which can later be used for insurance purposes or in a legal case. Your best step for ensuring that you document an accident with a police record is to call the police when you experience a crash. The attending police officer would then draft the document and allow you to request a copy for your records.

Police Do Not Always Attend the Accident Scene

Sometimes, a police officer might not be able to attend an accident scene due to the following or other reasons:  

  • The property damage value is too low
  • There are no injuries in the accident
  • A major emergency is occurring at the same time

It is always best to call law enforcement after a crash and let them decide whether to attend the scene. If the police are not attending, record all the critical details of the collision, and take pictures of the accident scene and involved vehicles.

How to File a Police Report After the Accident

If the police did not attend your car crash, you could file an accident report with the police department in the area where the accident occurred. Filing a police accident report may vary depending on your location and the specific procedures of your local police department. However, here are the steps you can take:

1. Contact the Police Department

Call the non-emergency number for the police department near the crash scene. Explain that you were involved in a car accident and wish to file an accident report.

2. Provide Information

Have the following information ready when you call:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number
  • The vehicle make and model
  • Your license plate number
  • The date, time, and location of the accident
  • A detailed description of the accident
  • The weather and road conditions at the time of the crash
  • The cause of the accident

3. Obtain the Report Number

The police department will provide a report number once they create your accident report. Write this number down and keep it in a safe place. In the days after filing the police report, follow up with the police department to determine whether they require additional information or need you to sign the accident report.

Since the laws regarding accident reporting vary by state, consider consulting an experienced car accident lawyer for specific guidance. You may have legal recourse and qualify for damages. Morgan & Morgan has helped thousands of car accident victims recover the compensation they deserve.

Why a Police Report Can Be Essential for Your Claim

Understanding how to file a police report can be useful if you have to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit after a car accident. Police reports are not always admissible as evidence in court. However, they usually contain the attending officer’s opinion of who is at fault for the crash, which can be critical for the success of your car accident insurance claim or lawsuit. Here are some reasons why a police report can be a vital document:

Objective Record of the Crash

When police officers respond to a collision, they document the details in an accident report. This report will include essential information like the names, contact information, and insurance details of everyone involved.

Official Documentation

The police report is an official document, meaning it can carry some weight in insurance claims and legal proceedings. Insurance companies and lawyers may rely on the information in the accident report when determining who was at fault and how much compensation the victim deserves.

Provides Evidence

The police report will also include information about:

  • The condition of the vehicles involved
  • The weather and road conditions at the time of the accident
  • Eyewitnesses present at the crash scene
  • Citations issued to drivers, for example, for speeding or drunk driving

If you decide to pursue legal action, the information contained in the report can help your attorney build a strong case against the at-fault party.

Helps Avoid Disputes

Without a police accident report, proving who is at fault for the accident can be tricky. Disputes between you and the other party or with insurance companies can be avoided with an official accident record.

Can Speed up the Claims Process

Insurance companies can quickly deny claims or minimize your payout, citing a lack of evidence or missing information. However, filing a police report can help speed up the claims process, as it contains vital information your insurer needs to handle your claim quickly and efficiently.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • How Can I Get a Copy of My Police Accident Report?

    There are several ways to obtain a police accident report after a crash. You can get the document online, in person, or by mailing your request to the law enforcement office dealing with your accident.

    Moreover, if your insurance company is already working on your claim, they may have the police report and could provide you with a copy. If you are working with a personal injury lawyer, they can also request the police report of your car crash.

    Note that it can take some weeks before the accident report is completed and processed by the responsible police department and becomes available to you.

  • Are Police Reports Admissible as Evidence in Court?

    Police reports can establish the facts of the crash, provide context, and support witness testimony. However, while a police report can be helpful for an insurance claim or lawsuit, the document does not guarantee a favorable outcome.

    Police reports are not always admissible in court; even if they are, the defense might challenge the report’s accuracy. Additionally, the document may carry little weight when the police officer who created the report can testify in person. Moreover, an investigating insurance company may not agree with the attending officer’s opinion regarding who or what caused the crash.

    Therefore, rather than relying on a police report, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who can build your case and pursue compensation.

  • Can I File an Accident Report Online?

    Depending on state laws, you could self-report a car accident by filing a police report online. This can be useful when you were involved in a minor crash with little property damage and no injuries. Here’s how to file a police report online:

    Visit the police department’s website and look for the section dedicated to accident reports. You will be prompted to fill in all the details typically listed in a police report, such as the date and location of the accident and other facts. Once you submit the information online, the police department will review it to ensure accuracy and completeness. You may also request a copy of the report by mail or online.

    The process for filing a police accident report can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific accident circumstances. Sometimes, you may need to file a report in person or over the phone and involve an attorney and insurance company. Check with the applicable police department to determine the specific requirements for filing an accident report.

  • How Can I Correct a Police Report Containing Mistakes?

    Accurate accident reports can be essential for your compensation claim, so it is worth checking your accident report for mistakes. First, review the report carefully to identify all errors and inaccuracies, which could include incorrect names, addresses, or details about the accident.

    Next, contact the police department that created the report and explain the errors you have identified. You may be asked to provide documentation or evidence to support the corrections.

    If the police department agrees that there are mistakes in the report, they will make the necessary changes and provide you with a corrected copy. However, if the department disputes your corrections, you may be required to provide further evidence or pursue other options, such as hiring an attorney.

  • How Can Morgan & Morgan Help Me After an Accident?

    Filing a police report or possessing a favorable report may not help you win a legal case or insurance claim. The document could even jeopardize your case or assist the at-fault party. Morgan & Morgan is here to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Our car accident lawyers can walk you through your options and move forward with a claim on your behalf. We can:

    Investigate Your Claim

    Our attorneys can work with professional crash investigators to determine liability in your accident. We can help gather the evidence needed to prove another’s negligence ad build your case, such as:

    • Traffic or dash camera footage
    • Police accident report
    • Witness statements

    Negotiate Adequate Compensation

    Unfortunately, insurance companies are often more concerned about their bottom line than paying victims fair damages. However, our car accident attorneys know how to level the playing field and can negotiate aggressively for a fair settlement that covers all your damages.

    Fight for You at Trial

    Morgan & Morgan never settles for less. We understand you need a fair settlement to pay for your medical bills and other accident-related losses. If an insurance company drags its heels, we can drag them to court and fight for the entire worth of your claim.

  • Morgan & Morgan Is Here for You

    Filing a police report can be an excellent way to protect your rights, especially if law enforcement did not attend the accident scene. However, a report alone may not be enough to help you get the settlement you deserve. Morgan & Morgan knows how to get results. We have recovered over $20 billion in damages for our clients and could help you, too, get justice.

    Our tenacious attorneys could handle your legal claim from start to finish, allowing you to put your health and recovery first. You don’t pay anything unless we win; hiring us is fast and easy. Get started today and discover your options in a free case evaluation.

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