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If you've ever been in a serious car accident, you'll know how important it is to get a police report documenting what happened and who was likely at fault. But how exactly do you get one? And what can you do with it?
How to get a police report for a car accident is a relatively straightforward process and it can help to ensure your rights are better protected when everything else in the accident seems to be in disarray. Read on to learn more about how to get this critical documentation for your car accident and what it can do for you.
- What Is A Police Report?
- How To Get A Police Report For A Car Accident
- Why Do I Need A Police Report And What Is It Used For?
- Not Sure How To Get A Police Report For A Car Accident In Your Area?
What Is A Police Report?
When a police officer responds to the scene of an accident, they file a police report on a form similar to this one. A good police report should be concise while providing a factual explanation of an accident and identifying key witnesses and evidence. The report contains vital details of the crash, including accident-related specifics like:
- Approximate date, time and location of the crash.
- Diagrams of the accident scene.
- Statements from those injured and witnesses.
- Descriptions of damage to vehicles or persons.
- Violations of the law (if any).
- Fault determinations made by the officer (if any).
Before the officer leaves the scene, they'll provide you with a receipt number that you can use to get a copy of the police report. This crash receipt contains brief specifics about the accident location, time and date, as well as the contact information for the drivers involved. If you don't have the receipt number, you may still be able to obtain the report from your local police department by providing the information you received from the officer along with your name for identification purposes.
How To Get A Police Report For A Car Accident
Getting a police report after a crash is fairly easy. You may have to wait a few weeks for the report to be completed. You also may need to pay an administrative fee for a copy of the report.
As you determine how to get a police report for a car accident in your area, there are usually five ways to obtain one from your local police station:
- In person: Stop by your police department to pick up the police report and pay any fees.
- Mail: Write to the local department, noting the crash receipt number, and request that a mailed copy of the police report be sent to you.
- Online: Many police departments have an online request option for quicker handling of your request and for online payment of your fee. Here's an example of the car accident report portal for Los Angeles.
- Through your insurance adjuster: Ask your adjuster if they requested a copy of your police report as they can usually provide you with a free copy.
- Through your attorney: if you're having difficulty obtaining the report, or prefer for a professional to handle this request, ask your attorney to obtain it.
Why Do I Need A Police Report And What Is It Used For?
Police reports are necessary to help make determinations of fault and damage. Although their impressions aren't binding, they help guide future reviewers of your claim to make better decisions of fact when it comes to your claim or case.
How Do Insurance Companies Use Police Reports?
The first piece of evidence that an insurance company asks for is the police report, and with good reason. Insurance adjusters look to the police report to inform them about key issues at stake in the disposition of your claim.
Police reports are often useful for car insurance settlement negotiations because they can provide a clear narrative about who was at fault and why. However, insurance adjusters will also conduct their own investigation and can disagree with the facts as laid out in the police report. They can reject your claim based on their own determinations.
Are Police Reports Admissible In Court?
Usually a police report is admissible when the drivers are in small claims court. If your claim goes to state court, the rules may differ. Because evidence like a police report are subject to hearsay rules as an out-of-court statement, it may not be admissible. However, some courts might permit police reports if they are considered a public or business record.
How to get a police report for an accident is relatively easy and all drivers involved and their attorneys, if any, should review the report to ensure that it is factually accurate, draws logical conclusions, and respects everyone's due process rights. And remember to always make sure that you call the police to the scene if the injury or damages warrant their help.
Not Sure How To Get A Police Report For A Car Accident In Your Area?
Whether you're simply trying to obtain a police report, or you're considering going to court to get compensated for your losses, it helps to have an experienced advocate in your corner. Start the process today with a free legal estimate of your car accident case.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.