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Police Report for Car Accident

While making a police report for a minor car accident may not be a requirement in your state, it can be incredibly beneficial to have official documentation to use as a tool in the event you try to pursue compensation for injuries and property damage. Furthermore, the parameters of a minor car accident vary widely across the nation. For instance, in Tennessee, you must make a report if property damage exceeds $50, while in Hawaii, it's $3000 or more. Some states, like Ohio and Nevada, require all crashes to be reported to the authorities immediately, regardless. If there is an injury or fatality, you must report a vehicle collision in all 50 states.

Even in a minor car accident, it's hard to assess damage at the scene accurately. These days, with advanced safety technology hidden in windshields, doors, and bumpers, the cost to repair may come as a shock. Likewise, right after an accident, you're likely agitated and pumped up with adrenaline, so it may even be hard to recognize if you sustained bodily injury. That's why it's so important to get a police report for a car accident, even if it appears to be minor at first. Without it, you may have trouble establishing that the accident involved another party.

Still, your accident may have occurred on private property, like a grocery store parking lot. In these scenarios, getting an officer to respond might be difficult. They probably won't issue citations when they do, even if the fault is apparent. In that case, you can still file an accident report at the local police precinct. However, it would be helpful if you took pictures and got witness information while acting as your own advocate at the accident scene. Nevertheless, keep in mind that anytime you have legal concerns about a car accident, Morgan and Morgan are here to help.  

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

  • Why Are Police Reports Useful?

    Notwithstanding legal requirements based on state laws, having a police report provides accurate and nonbias documentation of the accident. Generally, police have no stake in an accident's financial outcome, making an official account very compelling evidence. It represents an impartial view of the facts of the accident, which may be more effective confirmation if the parties involved have conflicting stories. In some instances, your insurance company may require a police report to file a claim. Likewise, a car accident lawyer can use the information in the police report to create a more persuasive case. Typically, the police report will include vital information such as:

    • The exact location where the accident occurred, as well as the position of the vehicles
    • Date and time of the accident
    • Details of the damage to vehicles and any other property
    • Documentation of any injuries to either party or others involved
    • Witness statements and contact information
    • Statements of involved parties pertaining to their view of how the accident occurred
    • Documentation of any environmental factors that may have affected the accident
    • Insurance information of all involved parties
    • A diagram of the accident scene, including road signage, crosswalks, stoplights, merge lanes, etc.
    • Photographs of the scene
    • Whether anyone was issued a citation
    • The responding officer's information

    Successful insurance claims and lawsuits require evidence, and the information contained within a police report may be essential. Likewise, suppose the other party complains that they suffered a serious injury after the fact. In that case, a police report could help to protect you against fraud. However, we do understand that some injuries take a while to manifest. Still, if they claim weeks later of a broken bone requiring surgery to fix, that would be an injury that should have been apparent at the scene. Additionally, the other party would be unable to make up a situation that puts them in a good light to avoid being liable for your damages if that argument conflicts with the police report.

    Official documentation can be instrumental and significantly improve your chances of getting your deserved compensation. Insurance companies and juries typically put a lot of stock in police reports because they understand it's based on unbiased observation and that police have no stake in the outcome. Insurance companies may also rely heavily on police reports to determine who is at fault. Still, their own investigator's opinions will ultimately determine the final decision regarding the fault.

  • Are Police Reports Necessary if No One Was Injured?

    Again, your state laws will dictate whether police involvement is a lawful requirement, even with no injuries. Still, at Morgan and Morgan, we always recommend getting a police report to strengthen your chances of getting compensation. If you end up in a dispute over who was at fault with insurance representatives, the impartiality of a police report can be very helpful. In some cases, it could be a tiebreaker. Without a report, proving your side of the story may be challenging.

  • How Do You File a Police Report for Car Accidents?

    Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of a police report, here is advice on what to do directly after a car accident to ensure one is on file:

    • Contact the police immediately after a car accident. Your emergency call will be on record even if you're on private property and they do not respond.
    • Explain your version of the accident with the responding officer(s) and answer any questions with clear, in-depth responses. The other party will also be interviewed, along with any witnesses to the accident.
    • Get information about how you can obtain a copy of the police report. If it's simple, you may get one at the scene, but it can take up to a day or more. If you only get a crash receipt at the scene, it will contain the incident report number, which will be required to get the finalized report. You'll need copies for yourself, your insurance company, and your lawyer.

    Copies of the police report may cost a fee, which could be between $15 to $30. You can typically apply in person at the local precinct, by mail, or online at the police department's website.

  • Should I Go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?

    At this time, you should recognize the value of independent documentation regarding a car accident. But you should also understand the importance of seeking medical care. First and foremost, you should be concerned with your well-being. As stated previously, you're dealing with confusion, shock, and maybe even anger right after an accident, especially if a negligent driver caused the accident. While you may not feel injured at the moment, once the adrenaline wears off, you might start to notice stiffness, pain, and range of motion issues.

    Some very serious injuries can go undetected for a while but cause permanent damage if untreated. For example, brain and spinal injuries may not be evident. Blows to the head can be deadly, even if the injured party goes on about their day feeling fine. Spinal injuries can worsen dramatically through inflammation of damaged nerves. That's why getting medical treatment after any car accident is crucial.

    Even if your injury is isolated to whiplash, that's still very painful and may cause you to miss work. These kinds of damages are worthy of compensation. However, to recover payment, an insurance company will want proof. Medical records will establish the existence of injuries and can be used as evidence. Without medical records, you'll unlikely recover compensation for bodily injury, even if your property damage is covered.

  • Can an Insurance Company Deny Coverage if I Don't Get a Police Report?

    When you report your car accident, it creates a chain of evidence that can validate your story. As stated earlier, insurance companies generally put trust in official reports from unaffiliated parties unless they uncover some evidence of misrepresentation. If you fail to report the car accident to the police or don't see a doctor, they have nothing but your word. This can be very problematic since they are in the business of making a profit. Lack of official evidence puts all the burden of proof on your shoulders, which may be hard to overcome.
    Depending on the insurance company you're dealing with and how meticulous you are in coming up with your own evidence, you may have your claim denied outright. Anyone can call up and claim that they were in an accident and injured. Without reports and documentation, you have nothing to back up what you're saying to them, and they know it.

    It's important not to succumb to sympathy when you're in a car accident. If the other driver is having financial problems or doesn't have insurance, now is not the time to be kindhearted unless you know you can easily foot the bill for damages because that's what you might end up doing without a police report. Furthermore, you could be breaking the law, depending on where you live. Not filing a police report because of the other driver's fears would be a poor choice for you, with them as the only party that benefits.

  • What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement Worth?

    This is definitely one of our most frequently asked questions. However, it's tough to answer because there are so many variables and factors that are used to determine the value of your damages. Purely using statistics, the average car accident settlement is about $25,000, including injuries and property damage. Still, this number isn't very useful because your accident's unique circumstances will determine your settlement, not a statistic.

    Factors will include policy limits, your state, the extent of your injuries and property damage, and whether the fault is clear or you have some blame. The only way to get a clear picture is to talk to a Morgan and Morgan car accident lawyer.

  • When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

    Car accident victims often quickly discover how expensive it is to be involved in a crash. Likewise, they understand how unhelpful insurance companies can be. It's an awful situation to be in, we understand. Morgan and Morgan can help you through this tough time. We know that insurance companies frequently try to lowball people on their settlements or even outright deny claims for the sake of profit. We will work to put you first and protect your rights.

    Working with a lawyer typically makes a substantial difference in your chances of getting your claim approved and the amount of money you receive. Even if the settlement offer sounds fair, you may not be taking into account all that matters. For example, if your car is repaired, you should still be compensated for diminished value. Likewise, suppose you had to miss work for doctor's appointments or other matters concerning the crash. In that case, that should be included in the settlement.

    An expert car accident lawyer has the knowledge and experience to accurately uncover and calculate all your losses, so you are made whole. Don't wait until bills pile up, causing you to stress out. Insurance companies often use delay tactics because they understand a stressed claimant is more vulnerable to take whatever they offer rather than fight for what's fair.

    When you work with Morgan and Morgan, we take over the situation to reduce your burden, act as a team, and always have your best interests at heart. After all, we don't get compensated unless you do. Don't fall for insincere statements from an insurance representative who claims a lawyer will complicate things. The absolute opposite is true. We streamline the process, get you the maximum possible, and relieve you of the stress of dealing with a car accident claim on your own.

    Contact us today for a free case evaluation. While police reports for car accidents are valuable tools, even if you didn't get one, we may still be able to get the collision on file. We're here to help.

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