Sometimes when people are involved in a car accident, they feel too shaken up to call the police. After all, who wants to answer a whole bunch of extra questions after enduring a terrifying wreck? Although you might be tempted to skip the police involvement and document things on your own, officers can collect vital data that could help your lawyer later. Here are two reasons police reports are crucial for your personal injury case:
1: Officers Document Accident Conditions
When officers arrive at the scene of your accident, you might assume that they are taking simple notes about the accident address, time of day, and involved parties. However, police might make notes about other things that could be incredibly useful to your lawyer and insurance company, such as:
- Traffic: How was traffic flowing at the time of the accident? Were there skid-marks at the scene? Police officers who are familiar with local traffic patterns can be instrumental in figuring out what really happened, which might help to prove liability later.
- Attitudes Of Drivers: Police officers might also mention if either driver seemed angry or aloof about the accident. For example, if someone is exhibiting signs of road rage, it might be noted in the report.
- Injuries: Reports also typically contain descriptions of driver and passenger injuries, which can help to prove damages. For example, if you endured serious whiplash during the wreck and you weren't able to walk away from the scene, having it listed in the initial report might help your lawyer to prove that you were hurt in the accident and not at your day job.
- Contributing Factors: Were any of the drivers drunk, high, texting, or driving a non-functional vehicle? Police officers will also note any contributing factors that may have been involved, so that your insurance company knows where to point the blame.
Because the accuracy of police reports is so important for your injury claim, it is crucial to get officers to the scene as soon as possible. The sooner police inspect the accident and document damage, the more accurate the report will be.
2: Officers Gather Information From Witnesses
If you witnessed an accident and you knew that nobody was going to bother to call the police, how likely would you be to hang around? Unfortunately, if the accident doesn't seem important to you, the details might seem less important to the people who watched it happen. However, if you take the time to call police, those witnesses might stick around, give their side of the story, and help you to form a clearer picture of what actually transpired. Also, because police officers have an air of authority and access to key information like driving records and licenses, they might have better luck getting accurate information. Here are a few things police officers might gather from witnesses:
- Verified Personal Information: If your lawyer ever needs to subpoena that witness, it might be difficult if you wrote down their address incorrectly. However, police officers can verify witness information after it is gathered, so that the report is rock-solid.
- Narratives: Unfortunately, you aren't the only one who might be shaken up over your accident. Witnesses might be emotional after watching a violent wreck, which could impact the accuracy of their story. Fortunately, since police officers are used to responding to serious accidents, they know which questions to ask in order to gather a thorough narrative.
Police officers can also take their witness interviews one step further by determining the credibility of each person. For example, if the witness was driving a car, their statements might be less credible than the next witness who was standing on the street watching the entire thing.
By understanding how important police reports are to your personal injury case, you might be able to help officers to document the appropriate information, and remain more patient during the process. For more information, contact a firm that specializes in auto accidents and personal injuries, such as Schiller, Kessler & Gomez, PLC.