How to Use the Police Report in My Car Accident Injury Case?
A police report is a vital element in car accident cases as it helps to establish the link between the accident and damages sustained. It also helps to prevent people from making claims that do not accurately reflect the accident. One other significant benefit of a police report is that you need it when filing a car accident compensation claim.
But how do you use a police report in your car accident case, and how do you get the report in the first place? This article answers these questions and some others you may not know you have.
If you or your loved one has been in a car accident and is looking to file a car accident injury claim, our car accident injury attorneys can help you. We will relieve you of the burden of pursuing your claim, from helping you get the required information in the police report to negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. You can instead focus on recovering from the injuries you sustained in the accident while we help you recover the compensation you deserve.
What's in a police report?
The minutes immediately following a car accident can be confusing. There is typically an uproar of noise and various impressions hurling themselves at you at the same time. Equally present is the feeling of dread that begins to beat somewhere in your chest as the realization that you have been in an accident hits you. The next few minutes will be channeled towards taking stock of your injuries, including damage to your car.
Determining fault may not top the list of priorities - yet. By the time you get around to asking who is to blame, you might find yourself on the receiving end of said blame. However, you are absolutely sure – or maybe not so sure – that the fault is not yours. Yet, you seem to be getting blamed for the car accident.
Kansas is a “no-fault” car accident state, which means that every driver must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is designed to compensate an injured driver for economic losses such as medical bills, lost income, and other rehabilitation. It kicks in after a policyholder has been in a car accident regardless of who is at fault. Unfortunately, a PIP can only compensate you to the limits of your policy, and it does not compensate you for your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Fortunately, Kansas is not a pure no-fault state but operates a modified no-fault system. What this means for you is that provided you meet specific requirements, you can sue the at-fault driver for your injuries in the car accident, including pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. Thus, you can sue the other driver if you meet one of the following requirements:
- Medical expenses exceeding $2,000
- Permanent disfigurement
- Fractured weight-bearing bone
- Compound, comminuted (splintered), displaced or compressed fracture of any bone
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent injury
- Permanent loss of bodily function
A police report is vital to filing your car accident claim. When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a car accident, they inspect the scene, taking note of how things appear. They will examine the vehicles, speak with witnesses, measure distances and take photographs. These tiny details all go into creating a report of the accident.
The report will often provide information on the following aspects of the accident:
- The date of the accident
- The time it happened and where it did
- Information on all parties involved in the accident, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information
- Information on any witness present at the scene of the accident
- The conditions of the weather, roadway, and general visibility at the location of the accident
- Visual rendition of the accident, either a picture or a diagram
- Statements from the parties involved in the accident and any witnesses present
- Records of any violations of the law and citations
- The law enforcement officer's opinion on the cause of the collision and who is at fault for it
The officer's opinion on fault is typically the only subjective part of a police report – every other item is solid fact. For this reason, insurance companies usually conduct their own investigation and determining who is at fault. But, of course, the submission of the insurance company is also an opinion. For this reason, a person's car accident claim might be rejected by an insurance company even when the police report clearly states that the insurance company's client is at fault.
Benefits of filing a police report
Seeing as the submission of the police officer can still be contested by an insurance company, is it beneficial to you to still file one? Yes, it is.
A police report provides the most accurate recollection of how things went down at the accident scene. It is often possible that the parties involved in the accident have conflicting memories of the accident, what happened, and who was at fault. Because the police report was created immediately after the accident, it represents an accurate report of the accident and an official unbiased one.
Other benefits of a police report include the following:
- It provides credibility in the case of injuries: Sometimes, a car accident injury does not become immediately apparent at the scene of the accident. Whiplash is a classic example of this: sometimes, a patient may not feel discomfort until a day or two after the accident. A police report can help to establish that the injury happened as a result of the accident alone. The report also helps set records straight when a person tries to make false claims for an unrelated injury.
- It provides credibility in case of property damage: As with bodily injuries, a car might not appear damaged upon inspection at the scene of a car accident but will show signs of damages a few days later. The police report will help establish that the car was damaged in the accident. Also, the report helps prevent the instance of false property damage claims.
- Car accident claims: A police report lends serious weight when filing a car accident claim, as many insurance companies require a police event number when handling a car compensation claim. This police event number is given only when you file a police report. Without it, you run the risk of having insurance companies reject your claim.
How to get a copy of the police report of your car accident
You can get a copy of the police report by requesting one from the police officer that drafted the report. Typically, the responding officer to the scene of the accident will give you a receipt with the identification number of the police report.
With this receipt, all you need to do is call the traffic division of the local law enforcement agency that responded to the scene of the accident. However, before you can get a copy of the report, you will need to pay an administrative fee.
Let us help you with your car accident injury case
Dealing with insurance companies can be tricky, and you should not do so without representation. This is not because insurance companies are bad, but because they are not necessarily on your side – even when it looks like they are.
They are in the business to make money, and this includes making payouts as infrequently as possible. So, if they can't deny a claim, they tend to undervalue an applicant's claim so that they can pay as little as possible. But, again, this does not make them the bad guys; it's just business.
However, for us at Fletcher Law Office, it is not just business. Instead, we are fighting to ensure that your rights are protected. To show just how much we care about you, your initial consultation with us is free of charge, and we won’t take a dime from you until we win your case. So reach out to us today and let us schedule your free initial consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer.