Every driver knows accidents happen. And while we hope we will never be involved in a severe car collision, the reality is that even a minor fender bender can be a stressful and confusing experience. That’s why it is crucial to understand how to get a police report after a car accident.
Police reports can be incredibly helpful in understanding what happened during an accident and who may be held responsible. But getting a police report is not always as straightforward as you might think.
In this blog post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about car accident police reports, from when and how to get one to how a police report may be used during a car accident settlement or lawsuit.
By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know exactly what to do if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a car accident in New Haven.
Related Article: Why You Should Always Call a Lawyer After a New Haven Car Accident
What Is a Car Accident Police Report?
A car accident police report is a document prepared by law enforcement officials who respond to an auto accident. It includes basic information about the accident, such as the date, time, and location, as well as the names and contact information of the involved parties.
The report also includes a description of the accident, including any visible damage to the vehicles involved.
In many cases, the report will also have the names and statements of witnesses. If there were a traffic violation involved in the accident, this would also be noted in the report.
The purpose of the car accident police report is to provide a detailed record of what happened, which can be used for insurance claims or legal proceedings.
Related Article: Common Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident
How To Obtain a Car Accident Police Report?
In many cases, the police will not release the report until the investigation is complete. This can take weeks or even months. You can do a few things if you need a copy of the police report sooner.
You can contact the officer who responded to the accident and ask if they will release a copy of the report. Keep in mind, however, that the officer may not be able to release the report if the investigation is ongoing.
If the officer cannot provide a copy of the report, you can contact the police department where the accident occurred and request a copy. There is usually a small fee for obtaining a copy of the report, which can be paid by check or money order.
Another option is to hire a New Haven car accident lawyer specializing in car accident cases. These attorneys have relationships with local law enforcement and usually get a report copy relatively quickly.
You can also try filing a public records request with your local government. This process can be time-consuming, but it is usually free and open to anyone. If you are involved in a car accident, obtaining a copy of the police report should be one of your top priorities.
Related Article: Fast Cars and Big Accidents: Connecticut’s Drag Racing Problem
Why Do I Need a Police Report?
There are a few different reasons why you may need a police report after a car accident.
- A police report can act as documentation of what happened. If there are any disputed details about the accident, having a police report can help clear things up. And if you need to file an insurance claim or take legal action, having a police report can be crucial.
- Police can help to preserve evidence at the scene of the accident. If there are any skid marks or debris from the accident, the police will photograph and document them. This evidence can help figure out who was at fault for the accident.
- Police reports can sometimes be used as evidence in court. The police report may be entered as evidence if your case goes to trial. This is especially likely if the police report includes witness statements or a description of the accident.
What’s in a Police Report?
A car accident police report is a detailed account of what happened, who was involved, and what the aftermath looked like. The report will include things like:
- Details of the car accident
- Point of collision
- Names, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information for all parties involved
- Contact information for any witnesses
- A description of the damage to the vehicles
- A diagram of the accident scene
- The officers’ names and badge numbers
- The responding officers’ observations about what happened
- The officers’ conclusions about who was at fault for the accident
Related Article: Key evidence to obtain after a truck accident
Facts Versus Opinions in Police Reports
When you are in a car accident, the police will usually file a report. This report can be helpful when you’re trying to figure out who was at fault for the accident. Remember that the police report is just one person’s opinion. Insurance companies will also look at other factors to determine who is at fault.
For example, let’s say you’re in an accident with another car. The police officer arrives and talks to both drivers.
He gets your version of events and the other driver’s version of events. He looks at the damage to the cars, and he looks at the skid marks on the road. Based on all this information, the police officer determines that you were at fault for the accident.
The insurance company might not agree with the police officer’s assessment. They might look at the same facts and come to a different conclusion. In their opinion, the other driver was more at fault than you were. Or perhaps they thought it was a 50/50 split between both drivers.
When looking at a police report, remember that it is just one person’s opinion. It doesn’t necessarily reflect what actually happened or who was really at fault.
A New Haven car accident attorney can also help you understand the police report and how it might impact your case.
How Insurance Companies Use Police Reports
Anyone who has ever been in a car accident knows that one of the first things you do is exchange insurance information with the other driver. But what happens next? How do insurance companies use police reports?
The first thing insurance companies do is look for any red flags that could indicate fraud. For example, if the police report says the accident happened in an intersection, but the car damage suggests it happened on a straight road, that is a red flag.
Insurance companies will also examine whether both drivers have identical damage or whether one has much more damage than the other.
Once insurance companies know what happened, they’ll start looking at who was at fault. This is where things like witness statements and skid marks come into play.
If there are no witnesses and the skid marks show that one driver was going significantly faster than the other, that driver will likely be found at fault.
Even if the police report does not assign blame, insurance companies will still try to figure out who was responsible for the accident.
Finally, insurance companies use police reports to determine how much they should pay for damages. They’ll look at the cost of repairs and whether any injuries were sustained.
In some cases, insurance companies will send their adjusters to look at the damage before making a final decision.
It is always a good idea to have a car accident attorney on your side when dealing with insurance companies. Attorneys can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Related Article: How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident in Connecticut?
Are Police Reports Admissible In Court?
If you are filing a car accident lawsuit, you might wonder if you can use police reports as evidence. The answer is: it depends.
In small claims court, litigants are typically allowed to use police reports to help explain what happened. However, if your case goes to trial in a state’s court of general jurisdiction, you’ll need to contend with the rules of evidence.
Whether or not a police report is admissible usually comes down to whether the report is considered hearsay.
A hearsay is an out-of-court statement that is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. And since police reports typically contain statements from witnesses, they are often hearsay.
However, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule, one of which is the public records exception. This exception allows police reports to be admitted as evidence if the report meets specific requirements, such as being made by a public official in the course of their duty.
If you’re planning on using a police report as evidence in your car accident case, make sure it meets the requirements of the public records exception. Otherwise, you might find yourself in hot water with the court.
The best way to handle all this is to seek the help of a New Haven car accident attorney. An attorney will know the ins and outs of the law and can help you determine whether your police report will be admissible in court.
Do I Need a Police Report Even If No One Was Hurt?
Even if everybody walks away from the accident unscathed, it is still a good idea to involve the police. Their report will help insurance companies determine who was at fault and what sort of losses and compensation they can recover. Plus, the police report might be admissible as evidence if the other party decides to sue.
Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer Today?
Getting a police report for a car accident can be beneficial to you. By understanding how the process works and what information is included in a police report, you can be prepared if you are involved in an accident.
You might want to speak with a New Haven auto accident lawyer if you’ve been involved in a car accident. A lawyer can help you understand the law and advise you on how to proceed with your case. Contact us today to learn more.