Even if you’re someone who’s never been in a vehicle accident, chances are you’ve heard of police accident reports. Now, the real question is, do you know what police accident reports are and how you can get a copy police report? Insurance companies seem to care about it, but why? Also, are police reports admissible in court?
It’s time we answered all the questions you may have regarding police reports and explained how certain steps should be taken.
What is a Police Accident Report?
A police accident report or police report is usually generated by the investigating officer who first responds to a request for help at the scene of an accident. It is a summary of detailed information concerning the car accident— comprising of both facts relating to the collision, and opinions of the officer at the scene.
How to get a copy of your Car Accident Report?
There are two different ways you can collect a police accident report. One will cost you a few bucks, while the other most likely won’t.
To get a paid copy of the report, you must request a copy from your local law enforcement office or one that drafted the police report. Before evacuating the scene of the accident, the investigating officer will give you a receipt, which should have an identification number for the said report.
Make sure to call the traffic division of your local law enforcement agency or whoever responded to the incident first, pay the administrative fee, and you’re good to go.
For instance, if you’re in Texas, the cost of a Big Spring Herald Police Report usually ranges from $6 to $20, depending on how you collect it. You’ll likely need to provide your name, the date/time of the accident, Crash ID, location of the accident, who was involved, your phone number, address, email, etc.
If you don’t have the Crash ID for the copy of the police report, you can alternatively provide just the time, date, and location of the event, along with your full name and home address to help in finding the report.
If you get a copy of the police report, consider asking the claims representative for your insurance company to determine whether they requested the police report, and then ask for a copy to the representative.
Note: The insurance companies do not always possess the accident report. However, if they do, consider yourself lucky as it will save you both time and effort. It’s also worth noting that no matter how you plan to collect the report, it could take several weeks for the investigating officer to get it ready and make it available.
What are the Contents of a Police Accident Report?
If you’re at the scene where the accident took place and pay close attention, you’ll notice that the investigating officer is conducting several different tasks: inspecting the vehicles, measuring distances, talking to others, taking notes and pictures, etc.
Usually, investigating officers complete some, if not, all of these tasks to collect essential data for later crafting the police accident report. Simply put, the report is basically a summary of everything regarding the investigation of the incident.
According to a source, the police accident report will typically contain some, if not, most of the information below:
- Exact time, date, and location of the accident
- Identifying information for the witnesses
- Identifying information for both parties involved in the accident, including their names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance information, etc.
- Location of the damaged vehicles
- Diagram of the event
- Roadway, lighting, and weather conditions at the scene
- Statements from the victims and witnesses
- Citations/violations of law
- Opinions regarding why the accident could have happened, a fault determination
Insurance companies usually conduct their own investigation after the accident occurs and a claim is reported.
Initially, the insurance company will demand the police accident report. The reason behind this is, as we mentioned earlier, the police report contains the majority of crucial information regarding the accident. Thus, it is a useful resource for a thorough investigation.
Admissibility in Court
Police reports are generally used in settlement agreements, but admitting an accident report as evidence in a vehicle accident lawsuit isn’t that straightforward.
In small claims courts, defendants are normally permitted to use the police accident report as evidence in their accident case. You won’t be asked to study all the rules and regulations of evidence, so the judge will allow defendants and plaintiffs to utilize the report in describing what exactly happened.
If your accident case goes to trial in your city’s court of general jurisdiction (often referred to as a “circuit court” or “superior court”), keep in mind that parties in such cases are usually held to the rules of evidence.
They must contend with if the police accident report falls under the rule against “hearsay” evidence that keeps out several out-of-court statements— i.e., any assertion conducted in a police accident report is a statement that’s been made out of court.
The police accident report may fall under the “business records” or “public records” exception for admissibility in some jurisdictions. In other, various exceptions to the hearsay rule may apply and let you admit the police accident report as evidence.
Having a vehicle accident report in evidence for your case supports your claim. It will vastly increase your chances of receiving the compensation you so deserve, as a victim of the other party’s negligence or fault. If you’re the driver determined to be at fault, you still require a police report of the accident.
I feel like there should’ve been a different word here, I just don’t know what.