If you were involved in a car accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation, even if the incident was minor, like a collision in a parking lot. If you call the police, they may even decline to respond if they feel the incident does not warrant police presence. In these cases, there may not be a police report.
Fortunately, pursuing compensation after a motor vehicle accident should not be impacted by the lack of a police record. The report can help accelerate a car accident claim, but it isn’t essential. It’s still possible to successfully obtain financial restitution from an insurance claim or lawsuit even without a report.
Here’s what you should know and who to reach out to after you or a loved one were impacted by a motor vehicle accident through no fault of your own.
What a Police Report After a Car Accident Accomplishes
It’s true that police records do have significant merit in a car accident claim. A plaintiff’s allegations can be strengthened by using the police report from the responding officer as a credible resource, since incidents are generally described objectively in police records.
The investigating officer gathers testimony from witnesses and compiles a report that contains a summary of the incident, a diagram of the location, among other evidence. The officer also provides their own anecdotal observations. Regardless of the either party’s opinion of what happened, the police report gives a judge and jury an unbiased look at the incident.
This can be very valuable in car accident cases, especially where fault isn’t immediately clear or both parties contributed fault to the incident. It also provides a formal record of the accident, which may not exist otherwise.
Do You Really Need to Call the Police?
While police records offer a third-party perspective, they’re generally not considered legally admissible. It’s a common misconception that police reports can be admitted as evidence, however, they are actually considered hearsay. Because the responding police officer likely wasn’t present at the time of the crash, they cannot speak as an eyewitness. Eyewitness accounts and expert testimonies are typically given more weight in a car accident case than the account of the police officer who initially responded to the collision.
Instead, police records provide a synopsis of what transpired after the collision and the accounts of any witnesses who were present. If you have the opportunity to contact the police after a minor incident, this is typically the best course of action. However, if you’ve already left the scene of a minor incident without calling the police, you may still be able to obtain compensation.
How to File an Accident Report Yourself
If you choose not to contact the police at the scene or they decline to respond, you have the right to submit a report on your own. Simply visit your local police station to submit an accident report. Ask for a copy of the report before you leave.
Most accident insurance claims do not require a police report, particularly if the damage to either vehicle is minimal and/or there are no injuries or a crime has not occurred.
That said, having a police record on hand before submitting an insurance claim might expedite the processing of your claim. An insurance claim may still be submitted without a formal police record, it just may take more time than it would if you had one.
How to Collect Evidence
Even if there is no police report or other witnesses to an automobile accident, you can still seek damages by filing a claim. However, you’ll need rock-solid evidence to construct a compelling argument. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof, which requires you to prove that the other person is to blame for the collision.
Evidence can be any combination of images, video footage, witness statements, and other accident-related information. Particularly, you should note the time, date, and place of the crash. Any information you can glean about the other party or parties involved in the collision is also beneficial.
Deciding To File a Claim or Lawsuit
Any time you are involved in an accident with another car, it’s typically best to inform your insurance provider as soon as possible. Liability coverage can help pay for injuries or vehicle damage caused by you, in addition to legal fees if the other party sues you.
Additional coverage may also reduce the costs of your own related expenses, and if you aren’t at fault, you ideally will not have to cover any of the costs of the accident. If you attempt to strike a financial deal with the other motorist on your own, you run the risk of being sued later on if the other driver realizes that their vehicle has more damage than they originally thought.
Also, your own insurer may refuse coverage if you do not report the collision to your insurer immediately and the other motorist later files a claim or lawsuit for damages.
Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC Today for Help
It’s important that you don’t hesitate to obtain legal counsel as quickly as you can after being involved in a car accident caused by the negligence or carelessness of another driver with whom you shared the road.
Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today to learn more about your rights as an injured party after an accident and how to pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve for the damages, pain, and suffering you incurred as a result of the incident. Call now by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.
Serving clients in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.