Should You File A Police Report After A Car Accident?

Should You File A Police Report After A Car Accident?
Calendar icon April 4, 2023

Even if you’ve never been involved in a car accident, it’s likely that you’ve heard of a police report. People often assume that filing a police report is not a terribly important piece of information, especially if only minor damages occurred. However, a police report can be an important piece of evidence when attempting to seek compensation from the insurance company, so if you are asking yourself if you should file a police report after a car accident keep reading this article.

What Is A Police Report?

A police report is an official account of what happened during a traffic accident, taken by a responding officer. The report will typically include the following:

  • Date, time and location of the accident
  • Names of anyone involved in the accident
  • Witness information and statements
  • Insurance information of drivers involved
  • Any citations or violations of the law
  • The responding officer’s information
  • Location and severity of damages
  • A diagram of the accident
  • Road, weather and visibility conditions at the time of the accident
  • Circumstances of the collision

Depending on the severity of the accident, the police report can be a simple one-page statement or it may contain multiple pages. Before leaving the scene of the accident, the responding officer will give you an identification number, which will permit you to retrieve the report from your local police station.

Is A Police Report Required When Filing A Claim?

New York State Law requires that the police must be notified of any traffic collision immediately if anyone is injured or killed. Additionally, New York State Law requires that police must be notified within 10 days of any traffic collision resulting in over $1,000 of property damage. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor criminal offense and can result in suspension of your license.

While it’s not necessary for you to use the police report when filing a property damage or personal injury claim against the at-fault party, it can demonstrate the legitimacy of your claim. For example, if you or anyone else involved in the accident decides to file a claim requesting compensation for property damage or personal injuries, the insurance company may question the validity of your damages; a police report provides a reliable record of how those damages or injuries occurred.

How A Police Report Is Helpful In Personal Injury Cases

After being involved in a car accident, you may be left with injuries ranging anywhere from mild to severe. You’re likely left with medical bills and you may have lost days of work because of those injuries. When filing a no fault claim or a personal injury claim to help recover some of the money you’ve spent or earnings you’ve missed while recovering, a police report can be an invaluable asset. Oftentimes, a police report provides crucial evidence that the at-fault driver caused or contributed to the accident (which helps solidify that their insurance carrier is liable to you).

If you’re working with a personal injury attorney, they will likely ask if you have a copy of your police report, as it is a valuable piece of evidence when it comes to determining liability of the accident. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney will be able to use the police report to gather additional information and evidence to solidify your claim. Your attorney can also assist you in locating the police report if you do not have a copy of it. A police report is valuable evidence for your case because it is created by an impartial, reliable source (the responding police officer).

Do I Need To File A Police Report For A Minor Accident?

While it is not your legal responsibility to file a police report after a minor fender bender accident, almost any personal injury attorney will advise you to do so in the event you need to file a suit in the future. In New York State, there is a “statute of limitations,” or a limited timeframe in which you can bring a claim, for any injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident. The statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the accident and depends on the nature of your claims.

The police report provides an objective view at the accident, the parties involved, and potential liability. It can help to aid you in your claim and obtain a potentially higher settlement for your damages. Thus, even if you were involved in a minor accident, you should consider filing a police report.

What Happens If The Police Don’t Come To The Accident Scene?

In some rare instances, a police officer may not be available to make it to the scene of the accident. They may be busy attending to a serious criminal matter, or there may be a major weather event preventing them from dispatching to the scene. If the police are not able to make it to the scene of the accident, you can still request a police report at the police station up to 10 days after the date of the accident.

Whether or not you believe the officer will arrive at the accident scene, it’s important to document the accident as best you can. Keep a record of whether you called the police, and any response you received. Be sure to take photos of the vehicles involved, the scene of the accident, and any defects or conditions that could have contributed to the accident. If there were witnesses to the accident, be sure to collect their contact information.

You may be able to use the evidence you collected at the accident scene when you report to the police station to request a police report. If you are not able to report to the police station in person, many local stations will allow you to complete the police report online.

Involved In A Car Crash? Call Cellino Law

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and plan to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party in your accident, it’s important to have a strong and knowledgeable team on your side. If you’re uncertain what pieces of information you need to file a claim, or if you’re just unsure of the claims process in general like should you file a police report after a car accident, our attorneys are here to help.

The attorneys at Cellino Law have the experience necessary to help guide you through the claims process and ensure you receive the largest settlement possible for your injuries. Contact us today at 800-555-5555 for a free case consultation.



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