If you’ve been involved in a minor collision or fender bender, your initial reaction is to exchange insurance information with the other party and settle the matter immediately. You may think it’s a minor problem and doesn’t require the involvement of the police.

However, this is where you’re wrong. It may come as a surprise, but even if the damage is minor, filing a traffic accident report is a must. It will save you money and a lot of hassle later.

Depending on the circumstances, federal law requires that you report car accidents to the police. You will need that report if you want to file a lawsuit. An accident report details an accident and is usually written at the crash scene. It contains details of the crash and damage caused to the other vehicle and public property.

The report should also include a drawn diagram of the accident and statements from witnesses and individuals involved.

How do I file a traffic accident report?

Even if you’re not filing an insurance claim, it is essential to file a police report if you’re involved in a car accident. This serves as a record of the incident, and you can use this if you decide to file a claim. This record will give the insurance company an accurate overview of the incident.

Remember not to leave the accident scene until the police are done making a full report. If necessary, you can also ask them to help you file the report to the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). You can ask for a copy of the police report as it can protect you if there’s any legal problem later.

Meanwhile, if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, filing a traffic accident report is imperative. Ensure you do it within 24 hours of the accident to avoid issues when you file a compensation claim.

What is included in an accident report?

“What is in a car accident report?” you might ask. If you pay attention to the scene, the investigation officer will inspect the vehicles, write notes, take photographs, and talk to people present. In general, a police report will summarize the investigation regarding the accident.

Some of the information in an accident report includes the approximate location, date, and time of the crash or collision. There will also be identifying information of all the parties involved in the accident, such as names, addresses, contact details, and insurance information.

Of course, if there were witnesses, their information would also be in the accident report.

The accident report will also include the details of the damages to vehicles involved in the collision. If there are law violations, they will be included along with citations.

The officer will also note the weather, visibility, and road conditions at the scene, along with a diagram of the accident.

Lastly, the report will note the investigation officer’s opinions about the cause of the accident and the initial assessment of who’s at fault. Despite the facts and opinions in the report, the insurance company will still conduct its own thorough investigation. It will form its own conclusion about who was at fault and liable for the accident.

How do Insurance companies use accident reports?

As previously mentioned, the insurance company will still conduct its investigation despite filing a traffic accident report with the police. Still, they will use the document the police have since an accident report will have many details.

However, they will still collect evidence and talk to witnesses to assess how much settlement they can offer the injured parties.

The insurance company will try to apply pressure and make you settle with them quickly, especially if they know that they are at risk for significant liability in the case. Thus, it is vital to stand your ground and seek advice from an expert lawyer.

How do I get a copy of an accident report?

In this part of the article, you know that the investigating officer creates an accident report. This is usually the officer dispatched by 911 when you request assistance after the accident. If you want or need to obtain a copy of the report, you can either pay for the copy or ask your insurance adjuster for a free copy.

When the investigation is done, the officer will usually hand you a receipt for the police report containing an identification number. You can call the traffic division or the local police that responded to the scene and tell them you want to request a copy of the accident report.

You will have to pay the administrative fee of about $15 and provide them with the identification number of the report.

Of course, the best way to get a copy of the report is when you don’t have to pay for anything. You can do this by asking your insurance adjuster.

The insurance agent will request a copy of that report as part of their investigation, and you can just ask them to give you a copy.

What happens after filing a traffic accident report?

The next step after an accident, whether a minor collision or a major crash, is to seek medical attention. It is crucial to have yourself checked by medical professionals since conditions like whiplash or concussions have no visible symptoms but have serious, long-term effects.

A medical examination will also provide you with a medical record for filing a claim later.

Regarding insurance claims or lawsuit filing, you must ensure the accident report has all the key information to claim compensation successfully. The report is crucial in identifying who was at fault and how much compensation you can recover.

Now, what if the report contains errors? If that is the case, you should immediately contact the law enforcement agency that issued the report and ask about the procedure for amending it. The process can vary based on the nature of the errors and the rules in the local jurisdiction.

If you’re unsure what to do, consult a lawyer to help you with the amendments.