If you are the victim of a careless driver and now find yourself injured, without a car and missing work, you may need to file a personal injury claim against the driver. You are entitled to money damages, but you must prove that the other driver was at fault in the accident. You may have eye witnesses, photos, videos and more, but one important document can be useful in many ways. The accident report (also known as a police report) can provide you with important information and details, any of which could turn out to be the deciding factor in the success of your personal injury claim. Read on to learn more about this report and how it can help your case.
Procure the report: You can consider the accident report your first major piece of evidence for your case, since it is often available soon after your accident. Increasingly, officers at the scene will complete the report and give you a copy on the spot. If not, contact the presiding agency that oversees the area where your accident occurred. For example, if your accident occurred on an interstate highway, the state trooper or highway patrol agency would be in possession of the report. City and towns would have jurisdiction over their city limits and rural areas are often overseen by the county sheriff's department.
Full of important information: No matter how serious your injury and how confused and stressful you may have been at the time of the accident, if law enforcement responded to the scene, an accident report was generated and will contain the following information:
- Everyone's contact information.
- Everyone's insurance information.
- Contact info for any witnesses to the accident.
- Date, time and exact location of the accident.
- Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
- A listing of any traffic citations issued to any party.
- A quick sketch of the accident scene and a summary of how the accident likely occurred.
- In some cases, the responding officer's opinion as to the likely cause of the accident and who was at fault.
Scrutinize the report: Take your time and read the report carefully, and take quick action if you find an omission, an incomplete entry or errors. In some cases, the report can be amended or you may be allowed to add a statement.
Using the accident report: This report not only contains useful contact information, the facts it contains can be used by your auto accident attorney to form a case against the at-fault driver. A lawsuit can be formed using the report, and the officer's opinion of fault could spur the other sides' insurance carrier to offer you a settlement.