Filing a police report after a car accident often serves as an important first piece of evidence. Responding officers observe the scene, record statements, and collect evidence that can later serve an important role during legal proceedings. An inaccurate police report can hurt your ability to prove fault or recover fair compensation for your losses.
The Importance of Police Report Accuracy
After an accident, a responding officer typically represents a neutral third party there to record the incident as part of the investigation. However, when police officers make erroneous observations, their mistakes can have a lasting impact.
Some practices can reduce the risk and impact of police report errors such as pictures and video footage. Accident reconstruction experts can also use accident evidence to piece together an accident. This type of evidence can be helpful when investigating a case even if the initial police report is inaccurate.
Takeaway: Always File a Police Report When Involved in a Car Accident
Police reports can contain errors, but they remain a crucial part of the legal process.
Without a formal police report, those involved often lose the ability to file a legal claim for compensation. Insurers trust police reports. In at-fault states, a police report serves as a foundation for a claim against the liable party’s insurance policy. In no-fault states (see map below), it can help drivers prove damages in a claim against a personal auto policy and (in serious accidents) provide grounds for additional legal action against at-fault drivers.
States in blue below are no-fault states
Whether a police officer responds to an accident or not, follow your state’s laws for filing a police report. Provide clear facts for the officer’s report, and record as much about the accident scene as possible – including any cameras in the area. Filing a police report and confirming liability will set the stage for any future legal claims.
Car accident lawyers can communicate, protect, and support their clients after a devastating accident. If you believe that a police report has inaccurate information or have suffered significant losses in a car accident, talk to an attorney about your rights today.