What Information Is on a Police Auto Accident Report?
Auto accident reports are like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. How's that for poetry? OK, it's not poetry and not exactly true, although you would be surprised at just what information goes on a police report and what may not. The thing is that if you get into an auto accident and file a claim with your insurance company, chances are that one of the first things they will ask you is whether or not a police accident report was made. You may have one or you may not, but if you can get one, you are probably better off.
And if the police do not come to the accident scene, you will likely be able to visit your local police station or DMV and fill one out. The key is to make sure that the information on the report is accurate before an inaccuracy becomes a problem and maybe costs you money. So, just exactly what information is on a police auto accident report?
The Standard Information
The basic information is pretty obvious and should always be part of any report. Be sure the following info is included and complete:
- The Date and Location of the Crash. Details Are Important. The date should include the day, month and year, of course, but also the specific time. It doesn't hurt to make note of the day of the week, also. In terms of the location, be very specific. Check to make sure everything which applies is included: county; town or city; road, street, route and/or intersection; road marker; railroad crossing I.D.; and any distinguishing landmarks. The report should also describe the weather conditions at the time of the accident.
- Drivers and Vehicles. Be sure that your report has all of the pertinent information for each driver, including name, address, phone number, driver's license number and date of birth. Pretty much all of the information that can be found on a driver's license, which you should ask to take a look at, by the way. You might want to note if another driver's license indicates a corrective eyewear requirement, especially if it appears that the other driver was not wearing glasses at the time of the accident. It is also important that the report includes full information for each vehicle involved, such as the year, make and model, as well as the license plate number.
- Passengers and Other Witnesses. Here is where you need to check the information in a police report written by a responding officer to make sure it is complete. In many cases, officers will not take down basic information on passengers unless they are injured or killed. But passengers are often the best witnesses to an accident. So, if you are filling out a report at the station or the DMV, be sure to include all the information you have on passengers. In addition, be sure the police report has taken the statements of any third-party witnesses. Third-party witnesses are often seen as particularly credible since they have no apparent connection to the parties and therefore no bias. Gently insist that the responding officer takes down witness information and statements. If he or she does not, get the information yourself. It may come in very handy later on.
The Accident Information
It should be mentioned here that the vast majority of police accident reports are done on a printed form with spaces for specific information and, in many cases, check-the-box sections to cover every possible tiny detail of what happened. It will also provide a space for the officer to write in any additional details that he or she deems important. If you are the one filling out the form at the police station or DMV, be sure to describe the accident in as much detail as the form allows, and then some.
Party and Witness Statements
This is the most important section for you because this is where you get to tell your side of the story. If the report is being taken by a responding officer, be sure to read over what he or she writes down for you and confirm its accuracy on the spot. You may want to review what the other parties and witnesses put down in their statements if you get the opportunity.
Remember, the need for a police accident report to be complete and accurate is hard to overstate. It's important not just in regard to an insurance claim, but also as evidence in a civil or criminal court action. If you review a police accident report and discover an error, let them know immediately. If the error concerns a factual mistake, such as a misspelled name or incorrect license number, something that is easily confirmable, you will likely find it simple to correct. Don't expect to be able to change something that amounts to a conclusion reached by the report taker, though, even if you believe the conclusion is factually incorrect.
A Report Will Not Be Filed for Accidents on Private Property
The police would not properly be able to serve and protect if they were called out to every fender bender in a parking lot or driveway. If your vehicle is damaged in the Walmart parking lot, the police will not come out to file a police report. You will need to take down the information yourself. The information required for filing a car insurance claim which occurred on private property is very similar to the information usually included on a police report.