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Do Police Reports Matter in Car Accidents?

Posted June 3, 2020 | Uncategorized

Many people who are involved in minor or serious car accidents often forget to file a police report about the incident. You may feel great now and don’t see the need to file a claim for the sake of covering medical expenses, but you may regret it later. Police reports are a crucial part of the insurance claim process.

If your injuries suddenly make themselves apparent down the road, you’ll need all the evidence you can get for an irrefutable claim. Among other documents, your insurance company or that of the other party will require a police report to ascertain the validity of your claim. Oftentimes, an insurance adjuster requests the police report during the investigation.

Why File a Report After a Car Accident

It doesn’t matter if there are no physical signs of injury right nowyou should still file a report with the police. 

After some time, car accident-related injuries like whiplash, head, spinal cord, and lower back injuries can appear. It’s common for injuries to show up days or weeks after the car accident. And once you seek medical attention and treatment for your injuries, then the bills start adding up–to a sum that you don’t want to pay.

Don’t sit on the fence about filing a police report after your car accident. Protect your future health and finances by filing as soon as possible.

What is a Police Report?

A police report is a document often compiled by the Utah law enforcement agent who arrives first at the scene of the vehicle accident. The officer will note down all relevant facts about the accident and its scene.

The report will also contain: the car positions, statements from any witnesses, the severity of the physical damage, injured people, and the investigating officer’s opinions and perspective on the accident.

You may also be able to file a police report of your car accident online.

How to get the police report of your car accident

All parties, regardless of who is at fault, can obtain a copy of this report either by paying a small fee–usually around $10 to $15-or for free. 

You’re likely to pay this fee when dealing directly with the police precinct handling the case. To get the report for free, however, you can request the report from your insurance company.

This method can be hit-or-miss, because you may request the police report from your insurance company, but you can only get it if they have already obtained the police report themselves. Request a copy of the report from the claims rep managing your case and see if they can provide you with it.

Speak to the car accident attorneys at Fielding Law to see how we can help you get your police report.

Information a police report contains

When the police show up at a car accident scene, they’ll gather information, talk to witnesses, and much more. 

These are the types of things you’ll find in a police report, including: 

  • Approximate time and date of the car accident
  • Location of the accident
  • Parties involved in the accident and their identification
  • Police officer’s deductions from the scene of the accident
  • Weather and road conditions at the time
  • Lighting conditions
  • Possible law violations and the responsible parties
  • Diagram of the accident scene
  • Police officer’s opinions on what caused the accident
  • Citations taken
  • Witness personal details, contact information, and statement
  • Statements from all parties involved in the accident

Please note that police reports are usually a mix of facts and opinions. While the facts are often undeniable, opinions can be contested if any of the parties find that they don’t favor them. They can also contest the report on the grounds of inaccuracy or unfairness.  

The one thing that’s clear, though, is that the insurance companies will often independently investigate the incident if they believe the cop’s opinions aren’t in line with their goal to save money. 

How Important is a Police Report in an Accident Case?

It’s easy to underestimate the role of a police report in filing for an insurance claim. But make no mistake: The police report plays a pivotal role in convincing an insurance adjuster who is at fault and who isn’t.

It’s not often that insurance adjusters disagree with the statements in a police report. When they do disagree, however, it’s usually because the insurance adjuster found something the investigating officer missed.

Police reports are important in all personal injury and car accident claims. This is because the police officer has adequate training and experienceenough to provide a reliable evaluation of the scene and case.

What if the Police Report Says You’re At Fault?

Rarely does a police report assign blame to the wrong party. If this does happen, though, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you challenge the report and prove that the officer was wrong.

To do this successfully, one must be intimately familiar with Utah traffic laws. The car accident lawyers at Fielding Law not only know the state law but also how to use it to refute the police report so you can settle your claim with satisfactory compensation.

How to Use the Information in a Police Report to Your Advantage

A police report can be of immense benefit to you when used in your favor. It can come in handy when dealing with the following:

  • Negotiating your claim–As the primary resource used by insurance adjusters to assess compensation claims, the police report is invaluable
  • Pointing to extra evidence–The police report can be used in unearthing even more evidence that your lawyer can use in defending your case
  • Getting the officer to testify–The police report is useful if you ever need the investigating officer to testify in court

If you have been in a car accident, you’ll need the help of experienced car accident attorneys. Call the Fielding Law office in Utah at (801) 666-2912 to speak to our auto accident lawyers today.