Even with a minor accident, it’s possible that the police may be involved. Any accident where a driver, passenger or pedestrian was injured means a law enforcement officer will be involved. The same holds true if there was significant damage to one or more vehicles.
When the police become involved, they will conduct, at minimum, a cursory investigation of the accident. A report will also be generated in connection to the accident investigation. While this might seem like an inconvenience, the report will be beneficial if there’s a personal injury lawsuit or an insurance claim filed over the accident.
Police Reports and Car Accidents
It’s common for law enforcement to respond to the scene of your accident. (Law enforcement is a term that includes county sheriffs, local police, highway patrol officers and state police). When the officers arrive to conduct an investigation, they will write up a report with the details of the accident. This is called a police report and may involve a rough description of the damages, cursory description of any injuries and interviews with witnesses.
It’s a good idea to get a police report done even if you’re not sure about the extent the insurance company will be involved after the accident. Sometimes it’s not necessary for the insurance company to get involved outside of recording the accident in your files. However, this changes if a claim has been made by you or the other driver.
Once the insurance company gets involved, the adjuster is going to want every possible detail about the accident and this involves accessing the police report. Should things go to the point of a lawsuit, you and your Personal Injury Lawyer in St. Catharines are also entitled to get a copy of the police report of the accident. All you and your lawyer need to do is contact the police officers that arrived at the scene of the accident and follow the protocols of that agency.
In most cases, these reports are a matter of public record. Still, you will likely need to pay a small fee to access public record reports of an accident. The small fee is meant to cover the costs of copying, preparation and mailing of the report. Some reports may not be available to the public, especially in cases where a criminal prosecution is involved or if there are confidential aspects of the report. When reports are not available to the public, access is granted through discovery or a subpoena, which is a court-requested access to the information when a lawsuit has been filed.
Police Report Contents
The typical car accident police report has the following information:
• Date, time and location of the accident
• Names of the parties involved, names of witnesses who observed, names of the owners and drivers of the vehicles, and the names of any passengers
• Details of the accident including position of vehicles, location of debris and ski marks, intersections and lanes. A diagram of the accident scene is common
• Description of vehicles, weather, lighting and driving conditions