If you have been involved in a car accident, getting a copy of the police report should be top of your priority list. Most people who have never been in serious car accidents before may not understand how to obtain the report. You may also be overwhelmed from seeking medical attention and talking to your insurance company. However, police reports contain essential information that may come in handy when you seek repayment for your losses or injuries. You can have a look at this accident report today or follow the following steps to obtain it and change the effects of car accident on your health.
How to Get a Police Report
The first step is getting in touch with the police department that showed up at the accident and submitted a formal request. You can file your application via email, through the police department’s website, or in-person, depending on the department itself. You may have to wait for up to two weeks for the police report, and sometimes, a fee of between $15 and $25 applies.
You may be required to provide the report’s identification number. This detail is usually on the receipt the investigating officer hands you at the scene of the accident. The location, time, and date of the car accident should suffice if you don’t have the identification number. An attorney can help you obtain the police report if you encounter any problems when trying to get it yourself. You can also obtain a free copy of your police report by requesting one from the insurance adjuster.
Why Is a Police Report Important?
You will most likely see the investigating officer taking notes, talking to people, inspecting vehicles, measuring distances, and taking photos at the scene of the accident. All these pieces of information go into drafting the police report for your accident. Your car accident’s police report, otherwise known as the crash report, may contain any of the following crucial details:
- Full names, current addresses, insurance details, and contact information of all the parties involved in the accident
- Approximate time and date of the accident
- Accurate location of damage to the cars involved in the accident
- A detailed description of where the accident took place and how it occurred
- Citations, if any
- Visibility, roadway, and weather conditions at the scene of the accident
- Identifying details for all witnesses
- A diagram of the car accident
- A suggestion as to the party believed to be at fault
Is the Police Report Treated as Facts?
The information relayed by the police report can be facts or opinions, depending on the details themselves. For instance, the time, date, and location of the accident are facts. However, the determination of which party caused the accident is treated as a suggestion or opinion of the investigating officer. While the police report is essential to any car accident case, your insurance company is bound to perform its own investigation to determine who is to blame for the accident.
How Does the Insurance Company Use the Report?
Your insurance company commences investigations as soon as you report a claim. They request for the police report mainly because of all the vital information it holds concerning your case. Since the police and the insurer carry out separate investigations, it is not uncommon to find that the insurer has denied your claim even though the police report determines that you are not at fault.
Is a Police Report Admissible in Court?
Although the police report may be used in your insurance settlement negotiations, the law is not black and white when it comes to admitting the report as evidence. You might be allowed to use the police report in a small claims court. That is because you are not expected to be conversant with all evidence rules. However, if your case ends up in a superior court, all the rules of evidence apply.
That means that the litigants must contest whether the report falls under the hearsay rule. The rule against hearsay evidence exempts many statements made out of court, including any assertions in the report. While some jurisdictions allow public reports as admissible public records, others have varying exceptions that might allow part or the entire police report as admissible evidence.
A police report in favor of the opposing party does not necessarily spell doom for your case. You can call a qualified attorney to discuss your options and charter the best course of action.