How to File an Accident Report with the Police

Filing an accident report with the police is one of the most important steps immediately following a motor vehicle mishap. Experienced traffic law attorney Doug Lauenstein provides insight on the benefits and reasons for filing a police report.

No matter the case, it is important to take the necessary steps following a car accident. Filing a police report is among one of the first items on your “accident-to-do list.” The police report not only provides valuable information for your car insurance company, but also protects you in the event of an accident-related lawsuit.

The Value of Police Reports

In some states, it is required that you file a police report after an auto accident. However, even if you are not required by law, it is still wise to file a report no matter how minor the incident may seem. Consider the following:

  • Injuries may not become apparent for a few days and possibly weeks later.
  • You may not notice all of the damage to your car immediately.
  • The other party may make false claims about the car accident at a later date.
  • The other party may admit fault to you but change his or her mind as time passes.

Police Reports and Car Insurance Claims

A police report can potentially help you in a number of ways:

  • It helps facilitate the claims process with your auto insurance company.
  • It could mean a quicker payout on your claim, as fault and accident details may be easier to determine with the report.
  • Should your accident claim escalate, and a trial is necessary, your attorney will need a copy of the police report.

It is important to remember that even if you file a police report you do not have to file a claim with your insurance company. You may want to consider paying out of pocket if the damages are minimal and your car insurance deductible is high. This may help you avoid accident-related rate hikes in the future.

Information to Include in Your Police Report

Your police report should be as detailed as possible.  Take notes and photographs of the accident scene, vehicles, license plates of vehicles involved in the accident and the people involved in the accident. Include as many specifics as you can, including:

  • A description of what happened.
  • The number of passengers in the other driver’s car.
  • The driver’s name and insurance information.
  • The names of witnesses.
  • The damages your vehicles sustained.
  • Any injuries to yourself and/or your passengers.

The Next Steps

The police officer called to the scene will gather your information and submit the report to their department. The officer may also write tickets to one or more drivers for traffic violations.

While still at the scene, ask for the officer’s card that will have his name and contact information in case you need to reach him or her in the future.

Obtaining the Report

You can usually obtain a copy of the report within a few days of the accident. If you filed an insurance claim, your provider may ask for their own copy of the report.

Why Police May Not Come to the Scene

There are three common reasons why the police may not come to the scene of an accident.

  • No injuries occurred.
  • The total value of property damage was too small. In some areas, officers are not required to report if the property damage is estimated below $500.
  • The conditions are too extreme. Your accident may take a backseat to more pressing issues in the area.

What to Do if the Police Do Not Arrive

If an officer does not come to the scene of your accident you can often go to the police station and file a report yourself. You may also be able to file a report online.

Driving on the road can be unpredictable. It’s important to be aware of all that can occur. Knowing how to file a police report is one of those items that can significantly help your situation. To find out more about police reports and all that they may entail, contact experienced traffic law attorney Doug Lauenstein in Maryland.