It happens in the blink of an eye. You are running errands, taking the children to school, or going to work. Your thoughts are on the day ahead of you or what you need to do when you get home when suddenly another driver crashes into your vehicle. Many people are in shock in the moments following a car accident, even a minor fender bender.
It is very important to call 911 to report the accident and request that the police and emergency medical services be dispatched to the accident scene. Even if EMS is not required, it is important to have a police report filed detailing the accident. While a police report is not legally required to file a car accident claim, police reports can be very helpful for several reasons.
Reason to Request a Police Report for Your Car Accident
Police reports provide a great deal of information about the accident that can assist your attorney in his accident investigation. The police report contains information about the other driver including the driver’s name, address, and insurance information. The report also contains information about the vehicle’s owner, if it is not the driver. The report also contains:
- The location of the accident;
- Date and time of the crash;
- A description of the weather at the time of the accident;
- Details about the road conditions;
- The names and addresses of eyewitnesses;
- A description of the vehicles involved and the damage to the vehicles;
- Names and addresses of those injured and, in some cases, a description of their injuries and whether they were transported to the hospital; and,
- Details about the accident, including a diagram of the accident scene, what various individuals said to the police officer, and a determination of whether each driver contributed to the collision.
Unfortunately, not all police reports are detailed and contain all the information described above. Some officers are more detailed when completing their accident reports than other officers. However, it is still in your best interest to have a police report confirming that the accident occurred. Car accident attorneys use the police report to begin their independent investigation. They also use the police report as part of the evidence provided to the insurance company to establish fault.
Can a Police Report Contain Errors?
Yes, police reports often contain errors. It is always a good idea to obtain a copy of the police report as soon as possible after a car accident. Review the report very carefully and note any errors in the report. You can only change factual information such as names, dates, and locations. If you dispute something the other driver said or the officer’s determination of fault, you probably cannot have the report changed to reflect your opinion.
If you do find errors in the police report, tell your attorney immediately so that he can take steps to have the report amended to correct the information. You may be able to add a written statement to the report as an addendum if the law enforcement agency refuses to alter the information contained in the report. There are no guarantees that the law enforcement agency will grant your request; however, you should try to correct mistakes in the police report as part of the process of filing an injury claim.
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