A police accident report is a factual account of an accident. Police officers write accident reports after visiting accident scenes. A typical police report contains different details, such as the location, date, and time of the accident. The report also contains identifications of cars and persons involved in the accident, as well as initial liability determination.
Below is an overview of a police report and its role in your auto accident claim.
The Court Doesn't Need It
The law requires you to call or wait for the police after an auto accident that causes injury or significant damage. An accident report is also helpful if the police don't come to the accident scene. The police will generate their report once they come to the accident scene or after you report the accident.
However, the civil court handling your claim doesn't need the police report to handle your case. Therefore, you can initiate and conclude your claim without the police's involvement.
Your Insurance Company May Need It
Most insurance companies require their clients to report accidents to the police. Some insurance companies even specify the period within which you must report an accident. The insurance companies require a police report to verify auto accidents and reduce claim incidences.
The insurance requirement is significant if you plan to file a first-party claim. Your insurance company might not handle your claim without the report.
The Report Is Inadmissible as Evidence
Although you should get a police report, the court will not allow it as evidence in your litigation. For example, you cannot use the police report to claim that the defendant ignored the red light and crashed into your car. The restriction applies because a police report is hearsay since the police write it outside the courtroom.
The Report Is Helpful
The police report can still help your accident case in multiple ways, even if it's inadmissible evidence. For example, you can use the police report to:
- Identify potential witnesses' contacts so you can trace them and ask them to testify on your behalf
- Refresh your memory on critical facts of the accident, such as the weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Prove the accident's occurrence to your insurance company
- Prove the damages and injuries you suffered in the accident
- Identify the parties involved in the accident
Thus, you should get a police report even if you cannot present it as evidence in court. Besides, many auto accident cases resolve before trial. The mere presence of the police report can strengthen your claim and help you negotiate a good settlement, especially if the report supports your allegations.
The Report Is Not Foolproof
Lastly, the police report is a fallible document. Here are some errors police reports sometimes have:
- Factual errors such as those that misidentify location or addresses (for example, due to misspellings)
- Judgment errors, for example, about preliminary liability judgments (for example, the police may indicate you were speeding even if you weren't)
- Omissions of crucial statements that the police should have included (for example, the defendant's intoxication)
The police errors can hurt your case. For example, the defendant can use preliminary judgments against you even if they are erroneous. Moreover, many people (including the courts and insurance companies) tend to believe the police over private entities. Therefore, you should get the police report, scrutinize it, and get the police to rectify errors it might contain.
A police report strengthens your auto accident claim and increases your chances of substantial recovery. Palmetto Injury Lawyers can help you get your accident report, negotiate your claim, and even litigate your case. You can rely on our professionalism and several years of experience. Contact us for a free initial consultation to determine the next step.