If you’ve been involved in a car accident, one of the first steps is to call the police. Many people think getting the police involved will complicate things, but the truth is it may make things simpler. Read on to find out when, why, and how you should report a car accident to the police.
When Should You Make a Police Report
In a word: “Always.” If there has been any sort of accident, you’ll want the police to make a report. This goes for both minor fender benders and 10 car pile ups. In some states, it is even a requirement to call the police after an accident. So, make sure you stay on the scene and call the police.
Why You Should Make a Police Report
Even if local law does not require you to contact the police in the event of an accident, it wise to do so nonetheless. Consider the following:
- Police reports help facilitate insurance claims
- Injuries may not appear for days or weeks
- Damage to your car may not be immediately apparent
- The other party may try to make a false claim about the accident later
- The other party may try to recant their version of events later
A police report is designed to be a non-biased third-party account of the accident. Contacting the police and creating a report may help support and protect you as the aftermath of the accident unfolds. Plus, the police officer wasn’t in the accident and isn’t experiencing the same intense emotions as you, so they are able to better document details you might forget, like the weather, road conditions, witnesses, etc.
How to Make the Best Police Report
Upon arriving at the scene, the police officer will make sure the area is secure and safe, call other emergency services if need be, then collect information about the accident. The police will likely collect the following data:
- Date and time the accident occurred — noting if it was dark or if there were other visibility issues
- Personal information from all the parties involved, including name, address, telephone number and insurance details
- Driver Statements
- Vehicles Damage and Information
- Witness Contact Information and Statements
- Injuries noted at the scene
- Description of the road or parking lot where the accident occurred
- A drawn diagram of the accident scene
Ask for a Copy of the Report
After gathering information, the police officer will submit their report to the department. That report is often available for you within a week to ten days via the police department. Obtain a copy of the police report as soon as possible. If you need to make a personal injury claim, the police report will often be one of the most important documents on hand.