You know about police reports. You may not, however, have any inkling as to what these reports are, how to obtain a copy of one, and why insurance companies value them. You may also be unaware that police reports can be used as evidence in court. Well, if you are ever involved in a car accident and hire a lawyer, he or she will be able to answer all of these and more for you.
You may not know much about what a police report is, but your personal injury lawyer in Bellflower, does. He or she will tell you that the officer who appears at the accident scene (after you are involved in a car accident) compiles this report. A police report consists of a summary of facts pertaining to the accident. It also contains relevant and useful information about the accident. The report will contain the officer’s professional opinions regarding the accident and the party who was at fault as well. The officer will hand you a receipt with an incident number. Safeguard this. You’ll need it if you ever want or need to buy a copy of the police report.
Obtain a police report
Your personal injury lawyer will inform you that there are two ways for you to obtain a police report. You can either pay the law enforcement office that drafted your report for an official copy. You can also call the law enforcement officers and give them the date, time, and location of the car accident. You’ll need to provide your name as well. This information will help the office clerk locate your report. Once this is located, you can ask your insurance company to give you a free copy of the report.
What is in a police report?
When the officer arrives at the accident scene, he or she will inspect the vehicles involved. The officer will also measure distances, talk to witnesses and eyewitnesses, and take notes and pictures of the accident scene. All of this and more will be in your police report. If you ever obtain a copy of your police report, expect to see the following information in it:
● The date, time, and location of the accident
● The names, contact information, and other relevant and necessary information of those directly involved in the accident
● Identifying information for witnesses and eyewitnesses
● Where the vehicles were damaged
● Weather, road, and light conditions at the accident scene
● Diagram of the accident
● Statements from eyewitnesses, witnesses, and all relevant people involved
● Citations and/or violations of the law
● Opinions regarding what caused the accident and which party was at fault
What is the difference between a fact and an opinion?
Information that can’t be refuted like the date of the accident are facts. Information that can be argued with like the officer’s opinion of the faulty party is an opinion. The insurance companies will use the information contained in the police reports to do their own investigations and come up with their own opinions. They will base your settlement amount (if any) based on this. Remember that the information and opinions in the police report will always be taken more seriously in court than the insurance company’s opinions. The police report is on your side for this reason.
• Insurance companies
• The insurance company will conduct its own investigation. It will base the direction of this investigation on the information contained in the police report.
• Admissibility in court
• Police reports are generally considered admissible in court. They are always used in claims negotiations leading to an out-of-court settlement.