A vehicle accident report, also known as a police report, is a report from the attending officer detailing the events of an automobile accident. The vehicle accident report is typically available about 2-5 business days after the accident. A report is useful when filing a claim with an insurance company and when suing the driver responsible for the car crash.

What Does a Vehicle Accident Report Include?

The police report generally includes information a plaintiff needs to win a lawsuit or file a claim, such as:

  • Place, date, and time of the car crash
  • Names of witnesses, drivers, or property owners
  • Description of the drivers involved in the accident, along with their driver’s license number
  • Weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • Any property damage
  • Vehicle description
  • Any injuries that occurred to drivers or passengers

Can I Sue the Driver Who Caused My Car Accident?

If the other driver was negligent, you can sue for money, formally known as damages, to compensate you for injuries sustained and property loss. Negligence in a car accident situation is the failure to use the same level of care an ordinary person would use in the same or similar circumstances such as a car accident.

To prove negligence, a plaintiff must the judge proof the defendant was responsible for the accident using the specific elements of:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty 
  • Causation
  • Damages

These elements may be proved using a variety of evidence types. These can include witness testimony, memory/recall of the injured party, video recording and photos, and items from the accident scene (such as skid marks or broken car pieces). Accident reconstruction technology can sometimes be used in cases where it is difficult to determine liability.

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How Can a Vehicle Accident Report Help Me?

In some states, the police officer at the car accident scene will conclude who was at fault based on the evidence. The accident report is often used to support the causation element of a negligence claim. The driver can be the actual cause and the proximate cause of the accident. For example, the report may detail the driver was the actual cause because, but for the defendant hitting the plaintiff, the accident would not have occurred.

In addition, the vehicle accident report can be useful for documenting injuries right after they occur. This is advantageous, as it may be difficult to recall how one was physically feeling right after an accident. Documented injuries can include:

On the other hand, the defendant can sometimes try to use the same police report to prove that they are not liable for the accident. For instance, if the plaintiff’s injuries have changed since the police report, or do not match with the statements from the report, it might affect the plaintiff’s ability to recover damages. Providing false information in a vehicle accident report can also lead to further legal issues. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer about a Police Report?

A police report can be an essential piece of evidence to your case. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you should seek medical assistance. You may also need to file a claim with a personal injury lawyer near you. A personal injury lawyer will look at the accident report and determine how to use it to prove your case.