You probably know the first thing you should do after being in a car accident is to call local police to the scene. What you may not know is what happens if the police don’t respond to your crash. In most states, you are still required to file a police report, even if it means you must go to the nearest police station instead of having an officer come to the scene.
If your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from going to them immediately, do so as quickly as possible. Even without the police’s presence, you should exchange your driver’s license and insurance information with the other involved driver. Do not discuss fault or blame or argue with the driver. Simply exchange information, and, if you are or will be represented by a personal injury lawyer, share this information with them right away.
Why do I Need a Police Report?
The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends that all drivers involved in an accident file an official police report, even if police cannot come to the accident scene. A personal injury lawyer is likely to make the same recommendation.
You need a police report because:
- It documents facts of the accident that might be unclear or otherwise misconstrued.
- It establishes the date, which can aid in complying with case filing deadlines.
- It documents property damage, and the physical injuries suffered.
- You need one to make a third-party insurance claim.
- Your insurer requires it if you must seek compensation from them.
Unless your injuries prevent you from doing so, strive to make this report immediately. In some cases, you might be able to do so online or by phone.
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What Information Should I Get If the Police do Not Show Up?
The notes and diagrams the investigating officer would have made at the accident scene are largely viewed as objective. If no officer shows up at your scene, you can still collect evidence that is valuable for your case.
At the scene, you should:
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Take photos of your car from various angles
- Take photos of the other car if it is safe to do so
- Collect names and contact details from witnesses
- Jot down the accident date, time, and location
- Note the road’s condition as well as weather conditions
If you cannot do so on your own, ask a friend or family member to do so if one is present. If not, a bystander or accident witness might be willing to do so on your behalf since smartphones are commonplace today, and someone is sure to have one readily available.
How Will a Police Report Help My Lawyer with My Case?
Your police report is a valuable resource in establishing your right to financial compensation after an accident. It will tell your lawyer how to contact the at-fault driver, their insurer, and any available witnesses.
It will also help them prove the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Along with additional forms of evidence, including your medical records, vehicle repair or replacement estimates, and proof of income, a personal injury lawyer will prove the cause and costs of your accident.
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How Long do I Have to File a Police Report?
How long you have to file a police report will vary from state to state. In general, you could have up to 10 days of the accident date. You should, however, file your police report as soon as possible.
A personal injury lawyer in your area can explain this and other relevant timelines, including the following statutes of limitations:
- The personal injury statute of limitations, which entitles you to up a specific amount of time to file your lawsuit starting from the accident date.
- The wrongful death statute of limitation, which entitles you to a specific amount of time to file your lawsuit starting from the date of a loved one’s demise.
Often, you must adhere to separate filing and notification deadlines when you file a claim against a government or municipal agency. A lawyer can ensure you comply with the time constraints applicable to your accident. Failure to do so could jeopardize your ability to recover financial damages from the at-fault party.
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Get a Free Review of Your Car Accident Case
Fighting for compensation after a car accident on your own is always a challenge. When the police don’t respond to your crash, it can be even more challenging to prove your right to compensation. Our car accident lawyer can help you overcome this obstacle and explain your next steps toward financial recovery.
Find out how by contacting a member of our case review team at Kaine Law today. We offer a free initial case consultation where we can learn more about your accident and answer any questions you may have.