Yes, you are legally obligated to report an auto accident in Birmingham, Alabama, if an injury or death occurred. Alabama law requires this under Ala. Code § 32-10-5. You must call law enforcement immediately, remain on the scene, and render aid to anyone hurt, if necessary.
There are also requirements for notifying the police about a property damage crash, although some minor fender benders may only require filing paperwork with local law enforcement within 30 days of the crash.
The Police Report Is Crucial in a Car Accident Claim
Not only does Alabama take reporting auto accidents seriously, but insurance companies do, too. If you fail to report an accident in Alabama, penalties can range from a $6,000 fine and jail time to a class C felony and prison.
Insurance companies will likely refuse to hear your claim or cover your losses. It is common for insurers to require a police report about a crash, and it will likely be one of the first things your attorney asks to see.
The police report is often key to identifying witnesses, finding out about citations, and other important steps in civil claims and lawsuits.
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What’s in the Report Filed by Police After a Crash
While most law firms and insurers conduct their own investigations, the accident report filed at the scene by the responding officers generally provides most of the information needed to get started. This includes:
- When and where the crash occurred
- Who was involved in the accident and how to contact them
- The insurers for each party
- The identity and contact information of any witnesses
- The damage to each vehicle from the accident
- A diagram of the crash scene
- Details about the weather, road conditions, and traffic
- Pictures, in some cases
- Statements from each witness, in some cases
- The officer’s opinion of what occurred
- If they issued any citations
What If the Other Driver Tries to Talk Me Out of a Report?
You should not violate the law—and jeopardize your financial recovery—because someone else tries to convince you not to make a report. The police report is important to get justice and compensation after a Birmingham car accident.
The other driver may try to give you cash to avoid dealing with the police. This may be because they have a warrant for their arrest, do not have a valid driver’s license or insurance, or simply do not want their insurance premiums to increase.
No matter the excuse, their cash offer is unlikely enough to cover your car repairs and medical bills, and it is better to recover money damages through the proper channels.
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Obtaining a Copy of the Police Report Filed About Your Birmingham Crash
You can purchase a copy of your police report online from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). This will require you to provide information such as your name, address, and birthday, as well as confirm you were involved in the collision. You may also need to provide some basic information about the crash.
You can request a copy as long as it has been between ten days and ten years since your collision. You will need an email address for the delivery of the report and a credit card to pay the fees.
An Attorney Can Help You Understand Your Police Report
If you have questions about your police report and how to use it to file a claim following a Birmingham crash, you may want to consider meeting with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the document and your next steps. Our car accident attorneys provide free consultations and help clients navigate the claims process to recover compensation.
Know Your Deadline to File a Lawsuit After a Birmingham Accident
The deadline for holding a negligent driver legally liable in Alabama is generally two years after an accident date, per Ala. Code § 6-2-38. For this reason, we recommend acting as soon as possible after your injuries are stable to connect with a law firm near you. There are also exceptions that can shorten the deadline.
An attorney can inform you of how other deadlines may affect your case. They will also ensure you don’t miss deadlines.
Speak With an Attorney from Our Team About Your Accident for Free
At the Morris Bart law firm, our team at our Birmingham office provides free consultations for car accident victims. We can assess the strength of your case, explain anything you have questions about in the police report, and detail how we may be able to help you going forward. We represent our clients based on a contingency fee. You will not pay us anything upfront.
Contact our team today to talk with an attorney about your Jefferson County, AL crash for free.
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