On average, there are 6 million car crashes in the United States each year. So if you've recently been in an auto accident, you aren't alone. After all, even the safest of drivers have to contend with the reckless among us.
Are you wondering how to get a car accident police report? We've got you covered. Whether you've just been in an accident or you just like to prepare, here's all the information you need to know.
What Is It and Why Do You Need One?
When an investigating officer responds to a car accident, he or she generates a police report. This report contains information about the collision. This third-party report is generally considered unbiased.
This information is often critical for getting adequate insurance coverage. Without it, you may have your claim denied or have to settle for less money.
The police report usually contains:
- the collision date, time, and location
- insurance information about everyone involved in the accident
- eyewitness information and statements
- statements made by those involved in the accident
- which part of the vehicles were damaged
- weather conditions at the time of the accident
- any roadway conditions at the scene of the accident
- an accident diagram
- any law violations
- the officer's opinion about cause and fault
A car accident police report is important because you need to know whether it supports your version of events or refutes them. If it supports you, it will be helpful if the insurance company comes to a different fault conclusion. But if it refutes them, you need to prepare to refute the officer's assessment.
Additionally, failing to file a police report can be illegal. For example, in Missouri, any accident that causes injury, death, and/or more than $500 in damages requires that you report the accident. Failure to do so can result in a fine or misdemeanor, as well as license suspension.
How Do You Get a Car Accident Police Report
If you want a copy of your car accident police report, the first step is to call the officer. At the scene, the officer will usually provide you with the report's identification number.
If you have the identification number, the process is simple. Go to the police department or courthouse and present the number.
Sometimes, the police provide records of the accident to those involved for free. However, you may have to pay a small administration fee (less than $20).
If you do not know the identification number, you can fill out a form. Just give the date, time, and location as well as your name, and they will still often be able to locate the report for you. Sometimes the form is online, so be sure to check and print it out before you go if possible.
Finally, if both of these routes fail, you can call your insurance company. If they have a copy, ask them to mail it to you. They'll typically do this service for free, so it's also a way to save you some money if you don't want to pay the administrative fee.
Have You or a Loved One Been Involved in an Auto Accident?
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, obtaining a car accident police report isn't enough. You shouldn't try to manage this process alone.
Why? Insurance companies usually do all they can to ensure a low payout.
If you've been in an accident, The Burning Law Firm can help. Contact us for a free legal consultation today!