A police report, also known as a uniform crash report, is a brief report that documents all the relevant information about an accident involving one or more vehicles. The bulk of the information focuses on the specific facts about the accident. It’s also not unusual for the officer to include notes regarding conversations with the parties involved and offer an opinion based on the combination of facts and the comments collected at the scene.
Some people question the need to file a police report. This is especially true when the event seems to be a minor one. In fact, you do need to file a report no matter what you think about the severity of the event. Here are a few of the reasons why that report might become quite important.
Not All Vehicular Damage is Apparent at First
It’s possible for everyone involved in a motor vehicle accident to look at the apparent damage and think it really isn’t so bad. To the untrained eye, the dent in the rear door looks like it could be repaired with ease. On the surface, that seems like good news and the parties involved wonder if they should even bother the police with such a trivial event.
The problem is that the damage may go much further than the dent in the door. What no one sees at the time of the accident is that the impact was enough to damage the frame as well as the door. That information only becomes apparent when a professional examines the vehicle. At that point, what was thought to be a minor repair becomes a significant expense. Depending on how badly the vehicle is damaged, the cost of repair may be more than the vehicle is worth.
In situations like this, having a police report matters. The details in that report will determine which part is responsible and how much his or her insurance company is willing to pay out to honor a claim.
Medical Issues May Arise Later
Just as the vehicles may sustain more damage than originally thought, the same is true with the health of anyone involved in the accident. Problems may arise days or weeks after the actual event. It’s only at that point the injured party thinks about seeking compensation to help cover those mounting medical bills. Without the police report to document what took place and what everyone said while still at the accident site, successfully receiving a settlement will be much harder.
The Other Party May Change His or Her Story
What is said at the scene of the accident may change later. It’s not unknown for people to suddenly remember other things or decide their original perceptions were flawed in some manner. Quickly, the narrative about the accident can devolve into a contest of who said what.
If the details are documented on a police report, there is only so much backtracking anyone can do. That will come in handy if legal action becomes necessary later on.
Processing the Claim is Simpler
The simple fact is that insurance providers rely heavily on police reports when they evaluate claims. Without one, it will take longer to process the claim and the odds of having it approved are lower. Even if it seems to be a minor matter, calling the police and filing a report will make things move along faster.
The Report is Evidence if the Case Goes to Court
Many motor vehicle accidents do not result in lawsuits. Instead, they are settled by insurance providers approving claims and paying the expenses incurred by the innocent party. If the situation escalates and the case ends up in court, a police report will be one of the more important pieces of evidence.
The bottom line is there is no reason to avoid filing a police report. There are many reasons to do so. If you are involved in an accident, insist that the police be called and a report filed. No matter what happens next, that report will provide some help.