After a car crash, it’s important to get to safety, call 911 and receive any urgent medical care you may need. Responding officers will secure the crash site and begin piecing together what happened with a written accident report. In Georgia, this step is actually required for any crash with injuries or with damage over $500.
The police report is a critical document to your personal injury case. Ideally, it records every detail about the crash, listing witnesses, road conditions and the personal information of everyone involved. Without it, it’s very challenging to later pursue a personal injury claim.
But what if you’re too injured to ensure the police complete a thorough report? Or what if the crash isn’t serious and the other driver doesn’t even want to call 911?
What’s in a police report?
After a crash, the police will report to the scene, secure the site, deescalate any issues between the drivers involved and begin preparing an official report on the accident. The report will typically include:
- The time, date and location of the accident: This one seems obvious, but it proves that the accident did, in fact, occur.
- The contact and insurance information of the drivers involved, as well as witness contact information: You’ll need these details if you pursue a claim or if your version of events is contested.
- Driver statements: This will give the officer a sense of what occurred and possibly an admission of guilt from the other driver.
- Information on injuries, damages and the narrative of the crash: The officer may include diagrams to map out what happened or photographs to document the scene.
- Notes on the weather: This will help determine if the other driver was failing to use caution in dangerous conditions.
- Whether any tickets were issued: If the other driver is ticketed at the scene, you’ll likely have a smoother road ahead with the insurance company.
The police report is important, but you should also document the scene yourself if you’re able. If it seems like the police are not planning to create a report, you may also politely ask them to do so. After the officer has finished writing the report, he or she will give you information on how to receive a copy. Collect the officer’s name, badge number, phone number and the number of the police report in case you have issues down the road.
If you’re hurt or disoriented, consider calling a friend or family member to help you document the scene and ensure the report is completed.
Why is it so important to have a police report?
Even if the crash seems minor, it’s still important to call 911 and obtain a police report. That’s because car crash injuries sometimes take time to present. Soreness may really be a soft tissue injury. A headache may be a traumatic brain injury. Without a police report confirming that the accident occurred, it will be challenging to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance and get the treatment you need. It’s also possible that, without a police report, the other driver will blame you for the accident.
After reporting the crash to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they’ll conduct their own investigation but draw heavily on the police report. If it’s clear that their insured driver was at fault, they’ll likely be quicker to offer a fair settlement. If you work with a personal injury attorney, your lawyer will also use the police report as a launching point for further investigation—contacting witnesses and possibly recreating the scene. Finally, if your case goes all the way to trial, the officer who created the report may testify, using the document to refresh his or her memory about what occurred.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney at The King Firm
If you’ve been involved in a crash, don’t get talked out of calling 911 and obtaining a police report—even if the crash isn’t serious. At The King Firm, our team understands how car crash injuries can worsen over time. If you’ve been hurt and need help, contact us today at 229-515-8585 for a free case consultation.