Why is it Important to File a Police Report After a Crash?

police report for a car crashFiling a police report is one of the most important first steps to take after a car accident, besides ensuring you get medical treatment. A police report serves multiple purposes after a crash, including being an official record of an accident.

Below, we discuss why it is important to file a police report and how it can help you through the legal process of filing a claim with the liable insurance company.

If you have questions about your rights following a collision caused by another driver, call our Sacramento-area car accident lawyers today. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.

How Do I File a Police Report?

The easiest way to file a police report after a crash is to call the police to the scene of the accident. The responding officer is required to file the report.

If you did not call the police or an officer did not respond to the call, you can still file an accident report. For accidents that occurred within the Sacramento city limits, crash victims can visit the City of Sacramento website to file the report.

It may also be necessary to file a report with the state of California. Accident victims can visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website to file a report using the Traffic Accident Report Form SR-1.

You should report the accident as soon as possible.

What is the Purpose of a Police Report?

There are multiple reasons why a police report is necessary in the process of filing an accident claim.

Documents the Accident

Either the at-fault driver or liable insurance company may try to deny an accident occurred. If you have a police report, it serves as documented proof of the crash.

Included in your police report should be the date and time of the collision. Therefore, if the driver tries to argue the incident occurred on a different date, you can prove he or she is lying. This also helps if the insurance company tries to deny coverage by arguing the motor vehicle policy was not in effect at the time of the crash.

Includes Notes from a Preliminary Investigation

The police officer who responds to the accident should include his or her notes from a preliminary investigation.

The report should include where and how the accident occurred. If the police officer suspects one driver was intoxicated, this should also be in the report, along with the results of any field sobriety or breathalyzer test conducted at the scene. In some cases, this may not be accepted as proof of an inebriated individual, but it could help provide a foundation for building a case.

Includes Important Information From Involved Parties

It is important to get insurance and contact information from the other driver, or drivers, involved in the collision. This makes it easier to file a claim with his or her liability insurance.

Without a police report, you may need to rely on getting the information directly from the driver, who may be unwilling to give you accurate information. If he or she believes you are at fault for the collision, he or she may not want to provide you any insurance information.

However, when the police are involved, all parties must provide insurance details as well as contact information.

Includes Contact Information of Potential Witnesses

If there are any witnesses to the collision, the responding police officer will most likely speak to him or her. The details of this conversation should also get included in the report.

In case you are unable to get the witness’ information directly from him or her because your injuries prevented you from doing so, the person’s contact details should be included in the police report. This could help if you need witness testimony to back up your claim.

Can I Use a Police Report as Evidence?

When negotiating a settlement with the insurance company, the police report will serve as an important piece of evidence. However, if the case progresses to trial, it is likely inadmissible in the courtroom.

The police officer who wrote the report may be able to provide his or her testimony about the case, though. So it is important to always try and get the police involved after a crash.

Am I Legally Required to File a Police Report?

It is legally required to file a police or accident report if the following occurred in the collision:

  • Someone is injured
  • There is a fatality
  • One driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • One driver flees the scene of the accident
  • City property is involved

It is generally a good idea to file a report even if you think your injuries are minor or if the damage to your vehicle is minor.

Call Us Today for Help Following a Collision

Filing a police report is an important step in the process of pursuing compensation after a crash. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you request a copy of the report to help you file a claim. If you did not file a report right away, our attorneys are prepared to help you through that process as well.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are no upfront fees. We do not get paid unless we win your case.

Call 916-777-7777 today.