After you get into an accident, one of the very first things you want to do is file an accident report with the police department. This ensures that you have a legal document supporting what actually happened during the crash. This is especially important to do when you’re in an accident that was the fault of the other driver. It’s important to understand how to properly file an accident report because, without one, it’s just your word against the word of the other driver.
Filing your Report
Right after your accident, if the police aren’t already at the scene, call the police department as soon as you secure the situation and get the information of the other driver involved. An officer will be sent right over to help you out when you describe your current location.
When the officer arrives on scene, it’s important to give him or her as much information as you can about what happened. This information will allow him to create a detailed report of the events that occurred. He will also survey the scene himself and gather his own information, but it’s important that you are as helpful as you can be throughout this process. After all the questions are answered the report will be officially filed and will be available for use by your insurance company.
What Happens if the Police Don’t Show Up?
There are some instances when an officer may not be sent to the scene. They might have too much going on if emergencies were occurring at the time, or the damage might be too minimal to warrant an officer coming out. If this is the case document everything you can as accurately as possible. Bring all this information to the police department after the accident and file the report at that time.
Include As Much Information as You Can
After the crash, you want to gather up as much information as you can about what happened, especially details that may not be available when the officer arrives. Snap pictures of the scene, the license plate number and of the driver’s insurance card. Also get a voice recording of any witnesses that were nearby along with their name and number if at all possible to help strengthen your story.
Get a Copy of the Report
After a report is filed, it’s usually possible to obtain a copy for yourself after just a day or two of it being submitted. Wait about two days after the incident and then head over to the police department to see if you can get a copy.
You Don’t Have to File a Claim
Filing a police accident report doesn’t automatically mean that you have to submit a claim to your insurance company. The report is just for support to your story if you do end up needing a claim. After you file the report, it’s completely up to you if you want to avoid filing a claim because you have a high deductible and the damage isn’t that extensive, or you just want to avoid raising your premiums.