Every state regulates how long after an automobile accident you have to file a police report. If you are involved in a serious auto accident or you cause extensive damage to another person or vehicle, you should immediately contact the police. It is your responsibility to document the incident as soon as possible so that it is available as possible evidence in court. When you file a police report, it should be complete, accurate, and provide information about the incident and any witnesses.
Police Report: Essential Documentation
The attorneys at Fasig | Brooks will tell you that the police report is essential documentation to help prove your case. Most states have a form to fill out and print. The reports you receive will have an option to include details such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), police dispatch number, names of witnesses, and other information about the accident.
Police Reports are Not Always Easy
Filing a police report is not always an easy task. There are certain details you will need to write down to make sure that you document everything correctly.
Remember to keep in mind that, even though you may not be filing a police report, the other party can file one at any time within state guidelines. Even though you may have received an injury due to their fault, the party may decide to file a complaint with the police stating that you are responsible for the injury.
Police Report Impact on Medical Expenses
Another situation where filing a police report is critical is when there are medical expenses for both parties involved. Some people choose to file both a police report and a claim for the accident, but sometimes both reports may be needed.
When filing a police report you should make sure to include a description of the car, make, model, year, color, and year of manufacture, and any type of insurance coverage that you are carrying.
Final Thoughts About Police Reports
Automobile accidents are usually investigated by your local police or, depending on jurisdiction, by the state highway patrol. The officers involved in the investigation will create an accident report that describes what they see and any useful information they gather from witnesses at the scene. This police report can be used by you or your attorney to investigate what the officers believe was the cause of the accident. This report is important because it creates a record of what happened that can be reliably used in court.
These reports can also be obtained by checking with any of your nearby federal, state, and municipal government offices. Your lawyer should be able to get them for you as well. Some of these reports are a matter of public record and are available for a small fee. You might need to pay a fee to pay for photocopying. Some agencies could possibly issue a police report at no cost. However, some reports might not be available if the matter was deemed confidential, because the parties involved are involved in or criminal prosecution, or any other reason that would require that the information within the report remain private. If the report is deemed confidential, it can be retrieved during the discovery process, which usually requires that an actual lawsuit be filed.