By: Mitch Grissim, Mitch Grissim & Associates
After you’re in a car accident, you’re confused, scared, and you feel angry and betrayed. It can be very hard to keep your head about you and figure out what to do next. You know that you deserve to be compensated and you know the other driver should be held accountable. Your first thought is to call the police, but then you wonder if that will do any good.
In truth, while you don’t necessarily need a police report after an accident, it’s always a good idea. Let’s examine why you should file a police report after an accident, and why you should also secure the services of a car accident attorney.
What Is a Police Report?
The first thing you need to understand is what exactly a police report is. It’s a record of the accident that’s generated by an officer on the scene. Officers gather reports from eyewitnesses, of visible evidence of the scene, and summarize what the scene and the people present tell them.
What this means is that the police report, legally speaking, is hearsay. Unless the reporting officer was actually present to witness the accident, they’re only reporting what you and others at the scene tell them. That means that the police report is not admissible in court.
Why Do I Need One?
You don’t need a police report, legally speaking. It can, however, provide essential insight into the case and be invaluable in moving your case forward, for practical reasons. First, it will provide your original account of the events. It can be very helpful to have this handy, as it helps you to remember what you said. Memories change with time, and having a reminder of how things actually happened can be very helpful.
In addition, the testimony of other witnesses at the scene can sometimes be helpful in developing your strategy. It can help you to see which comments support your version of events and which could be used against you by the insurance company.
Working with the Statute of Limitations
Finally, filing a police report provides a record of the accident. Since every accident case operates under a statute of limitations, having that report can help to back you up. It can also provide an unbiased assessment of vehicle damage at the scene, as well as a record of the participants (including you) receiving medical treatment.
Since not all injuries present themselves immediately, it can be very important to have this document to show that you got checked out. Otherwise, the insurance company can challenge your injury claim based on the accusation that if you were hurt, you’d have been seen sooner.
There’s a lot of practical information contained in a police report as well. It will provide hard facts on where the accident happened, the date and time of the occurrence, and a breakdown of the damage to all vehicles and property at the scene. All of these facts, as well as the reports from witnesses, will be important.
As your case moves forward, you’ll have to tell your story many times over. It’s vital that you keep the details the same; any deviation from your story, no matter how minor or unintentional, can give the insurance a reason to go on the attack. Insurance companies will go to any lengths to avoid paying out your claim, including claiming that you’re not that hurt or the accident was your fault. If they can accuse you of changing your story, they’ll do so in a second.
How Do I File a Police Report?
Filing a police report is largely a factor of calling first responders right after the accident. When first responders arrive, if it’s anyone other than the police, mention that you need to file a police report. When the police arrive, any information you give will form the basis of that report.
To get your report later, all you need to do is request a copy from your local law enforcement office. It usually costs about $15. In addition, if your insurance company requested the report after you informed them of the accident, they may be able to give you a copy for free.
Calling a Car Accident Attorney
Just like a police report, you don’t legally need to work with a car accident attorney, but it’s a good idea. The right attorney knows how to fight against the insurance companies and get you the compensation you deserve. If you’re in the Amarillo, Texas, area and you need help, call McConnell & Tormey for help today.
About The Author
Mitch Grissim is the managing partner of Mitch Grissim & Associates, and is a distinguished car accident attorney in Nashville, Tennessee. Mitch is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, the Nashville School of Law, and has been practicing personal injury law in Nashville since 1981. He is also a member of the American Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association.