Following a motor vehicle accident (car accident, motorcycle accident, semi-truck accident), you want to call the police so an official police report can be made. Two types of reports will be made. The first is the official police report created by an officer investigating the accident. The second is an unofficial report created by one or more parties following the accident.
The following are some things you need to know about accident investigations and how a police report can affect your ability to make a claim
Police Accident Investigation
When an accident involves reported injuries or fatalities, is blocking traffic, a driver is intoxicated or drivers are disruptive or fighting, a police officer is typically dispatched to the accident scene. A police officer is trained in vehicle accident investigation. Once they have secured the accident scene, an officer will investigate and determine the cause. Typically, the police officer will use a worksheet at the scene of the accident taking down information and then later prepare and official police report.
The information a police officer will typically gather at an accident scene is as follows:
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- Personal identification and statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Descriptions of injuries suffered by drivers or passengers.
- Vehicle descriptions including the make, model, year and color.
- Roadway conditions at the time of the accident.
- Property damages to the vehicles.
- Any factors that may have contributed to the accident such as speeding, non-working brake lights or turn signals, etc.
- The officer may also take photos of the scene and damage to vehicles.
If the officer suspects alcohol or drugs may have contributed to the accident, a field sobriety test will be conducted. Anyone found driving under the influence could also be arrested or issue a ticket.
After clearing the accident scene, the police officer may follow up at the hospital to report any critical injuries sustained by the drivers or passengers. Once this is complete, the officer will follow-up at the station and workup the official police report.
How a Police Report Can Affect Your Ability to Make a Claim
Once you file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, a claims adjuster will begin collecting statements from you, their insured, the passengers, and any witnesses. To avoid having to deal with the insurance company, it is best to hire an experienced car accident attorney from Parke Gordon Law Firm. Our experienced attorneys will handle all communications with the insurance company, taking a major burden and stress off of you.
Occasionally, after an investigation done by the claim’s adjuster, something may show up that was missed by the police officer. However, typically the insurance adjuster relies on the police report to determine fault.
Police reports are very crucial to your personal injury claim. Unlike the insurance adjuster, the officer was physically present following the accident. The officer is also trained to provide a reliable and fair evaluation of the accident and its causes. If the claims adjuster disagrees with an officer’s assessment, the case may end up in court. However, most juries will take the officer’s opinion over the insurance adjusters. A police officer’s testimony has automatic credibility with a jury.
If the Police Report Finds You at Fault
If the officer finds you at fault, the other driver’s insurance company will not accept liability for their insured. That means your injury claim will be denied. An officer can make a mistake on the police report. These mistakes can be fixed but if it is changing the opinion of who is at fault in the crash it is much more difficult than changing something such as a name spelling or address on a police report. It would be best to hire an experienced car accident attorney. However, it may be difficult to find an attorney who will take your case.
Even when you insist the accident was not your fault, your insurance will likely go ahead and pay claims made by the other driver. If your insurance company accepts liability on your behalf, it makes your claim against the other driver that much harder to prove.
If the Officer Does Not Assign Fault
Sometimes a police officer does not assign fault for the car accident such as when bad weather, road conditions, or some other factor intervened. When a police officer does not assign fault, you still may have case. You’ll need to have evidence that either contradicts the officer’s assessment or supplements and clarifies it.
Car Accident Attorneys and Auto Accident Lawyers in Spokane, WA
Don’t wait to call a Spokane car accident lawyer, call now. We can take the stress out of a claim and we’ll fight to get you full value for your car accident injuries working on your case. Call (509) 482-7274 to speak with an experienced Spokane car accident lawyer during a free consultation. The clients of Parke Gordon Law Firm love us and we think you will too.
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