Proving Fault: Car Accidents and the Police Report
A police report is the summary of an incident recorded by the investigating officer who responds to your emergency. In the case of a car accident, the police officer will record any facts and details about the incident, offering a summary of what happened. The officer will also interpret what happened based on the facts recorded. Police reports can help lawyers build strong cases for their clients in auto crash and car accident lawsuits.
Experienced Melbourne, FL attorney Stephen G. Charpentier would like to go over the basics of place reports and the role they play in auto collision cases. We can discuss your car accident in more detail during a consultation here at Charpentier Law Firm, P.A.
What Is in an Auto Accident Police Report?
The information in a police report for a car accident can vary depending on the nature of the collision. Some information found in an auto accident police report may include the following:
- Date and time of collision
- Location of the crash
- Vehicles involved and license plate numbers
- Names, contact info, and insurance details for parties in the accident
- Information on accident witnesses
- Statements from parties and witnesses
- Nature and extent of vehicle damage
- Diagram of the accident
- Notes on road and weather conditions
- Notes on laws violated/citations issued
- Opinions on cause of accident and who is at fault
Fact vs. Opinion in Police Reports
You’ll note that there is a mix of facts and opinions in a police report, the biggest opinion being who the officer believes is at fault and what caused the accident. Keep in mind that while the police officer may have one opinion about what happened in the collision, your insurance company may have another opinion entirely.
Obtaining the Police Report
There are two ways to obtain the police report about your accident.
- You can get a paid copy of the police report from the law enforcement office where the report was drafted. You will usually be given a receipt with the report number by the investigating officer at the collision site. The administrative fee for the report itself is generally affordable.
- You can get a free copy of the police report through the claims representative of your insurance company if the insurance company requested the report. Keep in mind that your insurance company may not have a copy of the police report, but it is worth asking if you would like to save yourself a little money.
How the Police Report Can Help Prove Fault in Your Case
Many times, police reports play a role in settlement negotiations, and can help you receive a cash settlement outside of court. Police reports can also be used in small claims court as evidence in a case. For an injury accident trial, there could be some issues with the admissibility of the police report. Remember that the issue of fault in the police report may be a matter of opinion. Insurance representatives may have a different opinion than the investigating officer.
By working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you will receive guidance and insight on your legal options. The police report can help build your case, and also allow your lawyer to craft a legal strategy for an ideal outcome.
Learn More About Your Legal Options
For more information about your legal rights and options following a collision, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The team at Charpentier Law Firm, P.A. is here to help you. You can reach our Melbourne office by phone at (866) 615-7868, our Cocoa office at (321) 631-5446, and our Titusville office at (321) 308-8025.