If you are involved in a car accident, you may need to file a uniform crash report, also called a police report. Many states require you to file a police report if the damages arising from an accident exceed a certain value. You may also be required to file a report during certain circumstances like accidents involving physical injuries. A police report may be necessary for purposes of making claims and as evidence. The following webpage seeks to discuss what a uniform crash report is, its contents, when it is necessary, why it is important, and when it may not be valuable.
What is a Uniform Crash Report?
A uniform crash report is drafted by the investigation officer who is called for assistance during a car accident. The report summarizes all the information on the car accident. The police report contains the account of the involved parties, and the opinion of the investigating law enforcement agent. A copy of this report is filed in court while another one is given to the parties involved in an accident. The insurance company will also secure their copy of the report from the court when the settlement negotiations begin.
Basically, a uniform crash report contains the following:
- When and where the crash occurred
- Identity information of the involved parties including their names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance details
- Kind of damage on the vehicles involved in the crash
- The circumstances or condition of the scene of the crash
- Statements from witnesses and the involved parties
- Any laws that were violated
- Opinions regarding the cause of the accident
When is a Police Report Necessary?
The law in many states requires you to report a crash when the damage exceed a certain limit. For example, in Ontario, you should file a police report if the damages arising from the crash are worth $2,000 and above. Failure to file a police report may cause one to be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident. Leaving an accident scene is a serious offense that may result in fines, a significant increase in one’s insurance rates, and jail time.
There are times when you must file a uniform crash report regardless of the value of the property damaged. This includes scenarios involving:
- Injury or death
- A government auto-mobile
- A criminal offense like drunk-driving
- Unlicensed or uninsured drivers
- Cyclists or pedestrians
- Unlicensed or uninsured drivers
- A car that is transporting dangerous items
- Damage to municipal, or private property
Why You Need a Police Report
A police report can prove to be valuable in the following cases:
- When injuries are not apparent until later
- When the entire damage to your car is not apparent until later
- When the other party issues false claims regarding the car crash later
- When the other party recants their statements regarding their liability for the accident
When it comes to negotiating with the insurance adjuster, a police report is valuable in the following ways:
- Facilitating the claims process
- It provides easy access to the details of the accident and liability information thus leading to a quicker settlement
- It can be used by your lawyer against the insurance adjuster in a small claims court
Apart from facilitating the claims process and providing hard evidence, police reports have the identity information of any person who witnessed an accident or was at the scene. Having the contact information of witnesses can be valuable for proving fault.
The other important thing about a police report is that it contains a trained officer’s assessment of fault. This opinion is usually regarded seriously and can help strengthen one’s claim.
When a Police Report is Invaluable
In many situations, a police report is classified as hearsay which is inadmissible evidence. When police reports are considered to be hearsay, it means that they are unsworn statements made out of a courtroom and declared by an individual who has no direct knowledge when describing the actions or statements of another individual. However, in a small claims court, police reports are admissible as evidence. They are also admissible in jurisdictions where police reports are regarded as business or public records.
In general a police report is important because it documents hard facts regarding the accident, the parties involved in an accident, vehicle information, and liability issues. However, one downside to police reports is that, in some cases, there are not admissible in court because they are considered as hearsay. Therefore, a uniform crash report can only be exploited in settlements, but tend to be useless when a case goes to trial.