What happens when you file a police report for a car wreck is that it creates a legal record of the car accident, the damage done, the injuries suffered, and other facts of the case. As such, it may play a significant role in your case going forward. This could help you prove your case or make it more difficult, depending on the content of the report. It is often necessary to file a police report for a car accident before you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Each state has laws in place that usually require you to file a police report after a traffic accident if there are injuries or significant damage to any vehicle. These laws have deadlines that can vary from a few hours to a month or more. If you called 911 and local law enforcement responded to your accident, you do not need to take any further action to file a police report.
Each State Establishes Its Own Rules for Filing a Police Report
While you have to file a police report and make an official record of your accident to seek compensation, how you go about doing this depends on where your accident occurs. Generally, the law enforcement officers who respond to your accident will file a police report that documents:
- When and where the accident occurred
- Who was involved
- Who witnessed it
- What happened
- If anyone broke any applicable laws
- If anyone suffered injuries
If you were in an accident that seemed minor at the time, but you later realized you need to pursue an insurance claim, filing a police report and getting the official report in the system relies on state laws.
Time Limits and Monetary Thresholds for Reporting Accidents
Some states may require you to file a police report within a certain amount of time after an accident. For example, you may only have ten days from the date of the collision to contact the police for a report. Other states may give you additional time.
Many states also set a monetary threshold for damages when reporting accidents. In some cases, law enforcement requires you to report accidents with damages exceeding $250. Others may set this threshold at $1,000. Still, some state laws may require you to file a report for any accident that involves injuries.
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Police Reports and the Impact on Your Car Accident Case
What happens when you file a police report for a car wreck can either help or hurt your accident case. Police reports are often one of the primary pieces of evidence in a car accident case and may be the only third-party documentation of what occurred if there were no witnesses. This evidence can greatly help your case if the other driver received a citation, and the officer determined they caused the accident. It could also provide evidence for the other driver’s insurance company or representation to use against you.
The police may determine you or the other driver caused the accident, or both you and the other driver may receive a citation. This can affect your ability to pursue compensation. Contributory negligence could cost you a percentage of your possible payout, even if the other driver was the primary cause of the accident.
It is not impossible for an attorney to overcome an allegation of fault in a police report, but this may prolong the process and make collecting compensation more difficult. The case may be more likely to go to trial because the driver’s insurance company can use this evidence to argue their policyholder was not solely at fault.
This is why it is imperative that you complete any documents you submit with only the facts of the case and be mindful of what you say to others about the accident, including insurance adjusters and the other driver. It could have a detrimental effect on your case, and you could lose the right to take legal action.
Understanding the Claims Process
The police report for your accident is one of the first pieces of evidence a car accident attorney will obtain when building your case for compensation. If you are navigating this process on your own, you will also need to request a copy to support your insurance claim against the at-fault driver.
Once you obtain this and other evidence to build up a strong case against the other driver, you will also need to document your medical care costs, lost wages, car repairs, and other losses. An attorney can take care of this process for you.
To learn more about this process or to enlist the help of a car accident attorney from the Morris Bart law firm, call (800) 537-8185 today. We represent accident victims in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and across the Gulf South.
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