Why Do I Need a Police Report After an Accident?
If you were involved in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation. Some people make the mistake of not calling the police. However, a police report will help provide evidence to support your claim.
After a quick inspection, you may think the damage to your car was minimal, and you believe you suffered few or no injuries. However, even if you don’t plan to file an insurance claim, it is crucial you get a police report if you were involved in an automobile accident.
Unfortunately, what you see on your car or how you feel after an accident may change in the following hours or days. You may discover later that the damage to the car is more severe than it appears on the surface. Also, some injuries may not be evident for hours or days after the accident. By this time, it is too late to call the police.
The Importance of a Police Report After a Crash
The police report is an important piece of evidence you need to file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. The report will help support your case if appropriate compensation cannot be negotiated with the insurance company, and you must file a lawsuit.
Calling the police is not mandatory after some accidents but advisable after all accidents. Virginia Code §46.2-894 states that drivers have a duty if they are involved in a traffic accident resulting in injury, death, or damage to the other vehicle or property.
In this case, a driver must stop, help any person involved in the crash, and report the accident to law enforcement. The code also states that the driver of the vehicle at fault must provide the other driver or another occupant of the car if the driver is incapacitated, with their contact information and driver’s license and registration number.
Interestingly, that same section of the law also mandates that anyone who is 16 or older and in the car at the time of the crash must report the crash to law enforcement within 24 hours of the crash if the driver fails to stop.
Although mandated by the law, calling the police after a car accident is also important to you. These items are included in the police report:
- Information from both parties involved in the accident, such as the driver’s license, vehicle identification number, and insurance information
- Statements from the people involved in the accident and any potential witnesses on the scene
- A diagram that illustrates how the accident happened
- A report of any visible damage on the body of the car
- Photos or video after a serious accident
When the officer is taking a statement from you, they will ask if you need medical treatment, and your response will be noted in the police report. In addition, the officer will note his observations of the scene, specifics about the accident, and whether they determine who was at fault.
How to Obtain a Police Report
After the police officer has finished his report, each person involved will receive a report number. This can be used to look up the police report online. The officer can tell you when the report will be filed and available online.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps these official records. Crash reports may also be reported by individuals to the DMV. The information is maintained for a minimum of 36 months.
To request a report, you may submit a written request or complete an online request along with a fee of $8 per report. Your police report will be sent as a paper report through the US Postal Service.
Contact Herbert E. Maxey, Jr. for Help
If you were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you want someone to help protect your rights. The negligent party’s insurance company will have legal professionals protecting their rights, and so should you. The Buckingham car accident lawyers at Herbert E. Maxey, Jr. understand the stress of dealing with the physical, financial, and emotional stress of a car accident. Call our office today at 434-969-4873, call toll-free at 1-800-248-1950, or contact us online to schedule your confidential consultation.