Filing a police report after you are in a car accident ensures there is an accurate, unbiased record of the incident. This will be instrumental in your case should you seek compensation for the injuries you sustained and treated for. There are a number of reasons why you should call the authorities and file a police report—even if serious injuries were not sustained.
Reporting an Accident
Some states don’t require you to file a police report after an accident. However, in Florida, it is required you file a police report if there is an injury or death of anyone involved (driver, passenger, pedestrian, etc.) or if apparent damages to vehicles or property exceeds $500.
In many cases of auto accidents, injuries and damages to vehicle and property are obvious. Calling the police is a must in these instances. However, in the event of a minor accident, determining if there are injuries or any damages that exceed $500 is far more difficult. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. In this scenario, it is still wise to call the police and let them decide whether or not to come to the scene of the accident.
- Related – Lay the Groundwork for A Successful Personal Injury Claim: Your Crucial First Steps After A Car Accident
Injuries Aren’t Always Apparent After an Accident
Sometimes you won’t know you sustained an injury until days after an accident. You may not have noticed how you were hurt and might only notice the symptoms or pain later. This can be especially true of head injuries. When you decide to treat for these injuries and seek compensation, a police report will be invaluable to your case.
Documentation is good evidence of your injuries and medical treatment. But if you didn’t know you were injured at the time of the crash, and decided against filing a police report, there will be no documentation. That’s why it is important to always file a police report after an accident, no matter how minor the collision. A police report that supports your claim can be used as evidence in the courtroom, or at the negotiating table.
Information Contained Inside a Police Report
The police report is an impartial third-party account of the police officer who arrived on the scene. Upon arriving on the scene of the accident, the officer will make sure the area is safe and secure for all parties. They will then begin taking down information to put into their report, including but not limited to:
- The location of the accident
- Date and time
- Damages to vehicle and property
- Injuries sustained by anyone involved
- Statements from involved drivers
- Witness statements
- Additional important information
The responding police officer on the scene will give you some kind of documentation. This will usually take the form of a one-page report or a business card. Either way, you will be able to see the crash-report number, the police agency name and the name of the police officer who was at the scene. This information is important so that you can get the full report as soon as it is done.
If you didn’t get the short form, you will need to wait up to 14 days before the full report is available. Most police agencies (Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office excluded) now utilize something called BuyCrash.com. This is a website which allows you to purchase your police report once it is completed. You just need to pay $16.00 and put in the crash report number (or your name and date of accident) in order to locate your particular report. An interesting point is the designation of “Vehicle #1” and “Vehicle #2” in the report. Typically, but not always, the car that is put as “Vehicle #1” is the car that is responsible for the accident.
Speaking to An Attorney
Regardless of what the police report says, it’s important to speak with an attorney. During a free consultation, an experienced Personal Injury attorney from The Ticktin Law Group can help you make sense of the police report. If you have a claim, the attorney can guide you through the steps you should take. All Personal Injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us unless or until we are able to recover money for your injuries. Call (561) 232-2222 or complete the contact form here to get started today.