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The Usefulness of Police Reports as Evidence in a Car Accident Claim

Posted in Car Accidents on August 5, 2021

Following a serious car accident, filing a police report can prove incredibly important. A police report serves as vital evidence about the car accident and can help establish many of the details of the accident, which may make it easier for you to later move forward with a car accident claim. 

Just how important is that police report? You should always file a police report after any serious car accident, including accidents that involve serious injuries to anyone in the vehicle or car accidents that involve substantial property damage. Never leave the scene of a car accident before the police arrive unless you need to leave to seek medical attention or you fear for your safety at the scene of the accident.

What Information Does a Police Report Contain?

A police report establishes several vital facts about the accident. First and foremost, it establishes the key details of the accident: time, date, location, and involved parties. The police report will contain the other driver’s contact information, including his insurance information, his license information, and information about his vehicle. That information can prove vital if you need to file a claim through his insurance company.

The police report will also contain basic information that will help establish how the accident took place. 

Statements

After arriving at the scene, the responding officer or officers will take statements from everyone involved. The officers will talk to both drivers, passengers from either vehicle, and any witnesses who remained at the scene to offer information about the accident. Those statements can provide a lot of information about how the accident occurred, including what the other driver says caused the accident. Sometimes, witness statements can identify factors that neither driver noticed at the time of the accident or that neither driver admitted. Other times, from those statements, the officer can work to put together more information about the accident.

The Officer’s Account

After listening to the witnesses’ statements, the officer will put together an account of how he believes the accident took place and who he believes bears liability for the accident. The officer may offer insights like which driver ran a red light, failed to stop quickly enough at a stop sign, or drove while distracted. The officer’s account may take into consideration any incriminating statements made by either party, including clear admissions of liability. 

Diagrams and Photographs

Sometimes, officers will include images of the accident scene. After a very serious accident, especially one that involved severe injuries, the officer might take photographs of the accident scene and include them in his police report. After an accident in which the drivers might dispute liability, the officer might include a diagram of the scene of the accident or include a notation of where damage occurred to each vehicle. In a later personal injury claim, an expert witness might take a look at those diagrams and use them to help establish who might bear liability for the accident.

Citations Issued

As part of the police report, the officer will note whether any driver involved in the accident received a citation for dangerous driving behavior. Citations might include a ticket for speeding, running a red light or stop sign, or driving while using a cell phone, either to text and drive or to look up information. A citation does not necessarily guarantee that a driver will bear some liability for the accident, but if the officer issues a citation as a result of the accident, it may indicate that the officer had clear evidence that the driver committed some violation. 

All the information on the police report can serve as vital evidence when you get ready to move forward with your personal injury claim. An attorney can look over the police report and use that information to help establish who may bear liability for the accident. Since evidence can prove difficult to collect well after a car accident occurs, many personal injury claims rely on the information contained in the police report to help establish liability. 

What Happens if the Police Report Contains Inaccurate Information?

If possible, you should review the police report at the scene of the accident to ensure that it contains the right information, including an accurate assessment of how the accident may have occurred and what people and vehicles were involved in the accident. However, sometimes, you might have to leave the scene of the accident without reviewing the police report, or you might not remember to check it over before you leave the scene of the accident. Later, you might discover that it contains inaccurate information.

What can you do?

1. Request a copy of the accident report as soon as possible. 

The sooner you review the accident report, the sooner you can make sure that it contains all necessary information, including an accurate assessment of the accident scene. Keep in mind that police officers are human, just like anyone else, and can make unanticipated errors as they put together their reports. By checking over the report, you increase the odds that the accident will be fresh in the officer’s mind.

2. Contact the officer and notify them about the error. 

You can contact the police station to get in contact with the officer. Often, a simple error can be corrected fairly quickly and easily.

3. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

If you notice that the police report from your accident contains errors and you cannot correct those errors by talking to the police officer involved, you may need to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. An experienced car accident attorney can help collect evidence related to the accident and establish any facts that might have been missing from the initial police report. 

Did you suffer serious injuries in a car accident? Regardless of whether you have a police report, if another driver’s negligence caused your accident, you may have the right to compensation. Contact The Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC today at 504-500-5000 to learn more about your right to compensation.