To call the police or not to call the police? For someone who has been in an auto accident that really is the question. If you have not been in an accident before, it is not always clear when you should call the police and what to expect when you do. The primary reason they should be involved is to writer a police report. But what is in the report and what should you expect? Read on to learn more.
The basics of a police report
A police report tells what happened in an accident. It tells what the officer saw and learned about the event. It also states the officer's opinion. You need this report to protect yourself after an accident. You also need it to talk to your insurance company and get payment quickly. Even though insurance companies have their own investigators, they use police reports to learn more about the accident.
Police reports are for accidents that happen on public roads. Police don't usually investigate accidents on private property unless someone is hurt or breaking the law. You'll have to write down the details about a fender bender that happens in your friend's driveway or in a parking lot.
When should you file a police report?
Sometimes the people in a car accident don't want to call the police. They might be driving with no insurance or an invalid license. They might just be scared of the police. They may think taking a few pictures and trading information is enough to protect them in court.
However, while a police report is not necessary for a small dent in a bumber, it is always recommended to get one anyway. This ensures that you have as much information as possible to protect you. But anytime the accident is more than just a minor bumper tap or someone is injured, the police need to be there.
Police are trained to help
Police officers know what to do after car accidents. Their training and experience helps them stay calm and think clearly when there's been an accident. The police will also keep you safe by stopping traffic or moving it away from the accident scene. They can call for medical help and give first aid to anyone who's hurt. They can calm everyone down if the other people in the accident are angry.
The officers' main job after an accident is to find out what happened, how it happened and how each person was involved. They are not there to arrest people. But if the accident was caused by someone breaking the law, like a drunk driver, they might arrest them. The police will usually give a ticket to any driver who was driving carelessly. If you get a ticket that you think is unfair, you can argue your case in court.
What's in a police report?
A police report for a car accident lists both facts and opinions. Facts are things like the location and date. Opinions are what the officer thinks happened and who caused the accident, if anyone. These reports are legal documents that your insurance company can use to decide if you get money and how much. A court can also use them, so you need to understand what they say.
Read the report to make sure all the details are right. Every now and then, the officer writes down the wrong street or time. Make sure the weather is also in the report. Insurance companies care if a driver loses control on a snowy morning or a clear summer afternoon.
Check the information about the other driver. Does their license say they wear glasses? If they weren't wearing them, that could help your case a lot. If other people were riding in any of the cars, you need their personal information, too. What they saw and remember can help prove what happened.
Police should also talk to the people standing nearby for the report. Since they don't know anybody in the accident, courts usually see what they say as true. Sometimes people who didn't see everything guess about what happened. This is why the officer should ask them what they actually saw, not what they think happened.
The report will need to be official before you can have a copy. You can ask the officer for it. Usually that officer will give you a receipt with the number of your report. In some states, the DMV has copies of accident reports and you can get it from them.
Once you have your police report, you can talk to your insurance company and make sure your rights are upheld. You'll need a lawyer to help you through this challenging time. The team at Accident.com can help you find a lawyer who understands what you need and will walk you through the entire process.