Unless a car accident is very minor and involves no injuries or very minimal to no damage to the vehicles or other property involved, you should always air on the side of caution and call the police to the scene of the accident. And this is especially true when there is any type of visible or noticeable injuries immediately following the crash, as well as extensive property damages as a result of the accident.
The problem is when we’re involved in a car crash, and our adrenaline is pumping, and we’re in a state of shock, we may not always realize in the immediate aftermath that we or our passengers did suffer extensive injuries in the accident. When that happens, we may find ourselves discovering that the police really should have been called and a thorough report with them filed.
But all hope is not lost if a police report never gets filed. There are still options for you to explore if you discover the need to move beyond filing a simple insurance claim and seek more extensive damages against the person who caused your accident and injuries.
Q: What is a police report?
A: A police report, also called a car accident report when pertaining to an automobile accident, is a detailed record created by a law enforcement officer who arrived at the scene of the accident soon after it occurred. The report typically contains a written account of the events leading up to, during, and after the accident from the perspective of the various people involved, as well as from the officer taking the report.
Q: Why is a police report helpful to a car accident case?
A: Police reports are often used by the police to open an investigation into an accident, which is especially helpful when the resulting damages or injuries that resulted from the accident are severe, or there might have been criminal activity associated with the accident. And for you as a driver and potential victim of a car accident, the report can help you make a strong case for yourself when filing a claim with insurance companies as well as if you decide to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the crash. This is because it gives an impartial, third-party, yet detailed account of many aspects of the crash and what caused it, which could point to your innocence and the other driver’s guilt.
Q: Can I still file a police report after the accident has already happened?
A: It is possible to file a police report about your accident after it has occurred. In the state of Missouri, you have up to 30 days after the date of the crash to file such a report. This is good news in some ways because if a police report was skipped immediately after the accident, and you don’t realize the extent of your injuries until several days or weeks later, you still have the opportunity to get an official report of the accident and its resulting injuries filed.
However, that delay does come with its downsides, as the police report will ultimately be less detailed and thorough than if it was filed on the scene immediately after the accident and involved statements from all people involved or witnesses to the crash. Even so, if you’re within 30 days of the date of the crash and have discovered extensive damage or injuries after the fact, it’s advisable to file a report with the police as soon as possible.
Q: Can I still file an insurance claim or lawsuit if I never obtain a police report?
A: Yes! You can absolutely still file both an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit, even if you don’t have a police report associated with your accident. It is not a legal requirement for you to have a police report in order to file a claim or lawsuit against the driver you want to hold responsible for your injuries. However, there will be other items and details you will want to try and have in place of a police report in order to help make sure your case is a strong one.
Q: If I don’t have a police report, what other items should I have?
A: There needs to be at least some type of evidence or information related to your accident and resulting injuries that can be reviewed by insurance companies or presented in a court of law if you’re seeking damages from the responsible party. If no police report exists to this end, then you should instead strive to obtain and provide:
- Drivers’ licenses, insurance information, car registration information, and contact information for all parties involved in the accident. Hopefully, these will have been collected by you on the day of the accident or subsequently by your insurance company after you file a claim with them.
- Witness contact information or testimony if this is something you were able to gather at the scene of the accident when it occurred.
- Photo evidence of the accident and its resulting damages. This can include damage to your car, the defendant’s car, other damaged property, the location of the crash, road conditions, and weather conditions at the time of the crash.
- Medical records: If your intention is to sue in order to receive compensation for your injuries, then you will need to provide medical proof of those injuries and the costs associated with treating them. So seek the necessary medical attention and keep organized records that clearly demonstrate your injuries and how they have affected your life.
Q: How strong will my case be without a police report?
A: The answer here is circumstantial because it depends on what other evidence or information you’re able to provide, as well as the additional evidence your legal team is able to gather on your behalf. With or without a police report, the right personal injury or car accident attorney should still have the means and know-how to investigate your crash and gather their own “reports” that they will use during legal proceedings.
If your attorney is able to find and gather strong, provable evidence in this manner, then not having a police report detailing the accident may not be as large of a hurdle in your case. But if useable evidence proves more difficult to gather, then not having a police report to turn to for backup could make a favorable outcome more difficult to achieve. This is why it’s so important to make sure you provide any additional materials your legal team might request from you instead. Also be honest and open with your lawyer about why a report was never filed, even if you might feel embarrassed or unsure about the reason. The more information they obtain about the decisions you made at the moment, the more insight and ability they have to find other ways to help.
Have you been injured in an accident but don’t have a police report? Don’t worry, Finney Injury Law is here to help. Our team of experienced trial lawyers is ready to assist you in your personal injury case, regardless of whether or not you have a police report. We understand that accidents can happen anytime, and the aftermath can be overwhelming. That’s why we strive to provide our clients with professional and engaging legal services. Contact us today at 314-293-4222 to see how we can help you.