How a Police Report May Impact Your Car Crash Claim

police lights on carIn many states, you are not always required to report a car accident – especially if the damage is only minor. However, in Tennessee, you must report a collision anytime there is property damage or personal injuries.

Regardless of the legal reasons, calling 9-1-1 to get police and other first responders to the scene also helps to make sure that you and other injured victims get medical assistance as quickly as possible after a car crash.

The police will create a report of your accident, which provides you with certain benefits. Today, Greg Coleman Law discusses these benefits, as well as the limitations and what you should do if your report contains an error.

Call our law offices anytime, night or day, to find out if you may have a case. It is free and there is no obligation to pursue a claim.

What Information is Included in a Police Report?

Police reports include important basic details of each driver and their vehicles, as well as a documented account of the crash and how it happened.

Specific information you are likely to see on your police report includes:

  • Location, date and approximate time the crash occurred
  • Details of drivers and their vehicles
  • Insurance company and policy information of all involved drivers
  • Eyewitness contact information and statements
  • Diagram of vehicles as first responders found them
  • Description and location of vehicle damages
  • Statements from all drivers and any bystanders who witnessed the crash
  • Specifics of any citations that may have been issued

Police Reports – How They May Help

After an accident, a police report may be helpful to you in many ways, including:

  • Giving an unbiased third-party account of the accident: Evidence from a first responder is often considered more reliable than statements from a bystander.
  • Helping to connect your injuries to the crash: This report, in addition to your medical records helps to support your claim of when and where your injuries and other losses occurred.
  • Providing leverage when negotiating with an insurance company: Since a police officer’s account is considered not only reliable, but also impartial, it may give you more leverage when negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
  • Witness statements: A bystander or other eyewitness may be more likely to give a statement to an officer than to a random person who was involved in a car crash.

Do Police Reports Have Limitations?

Unfortunately, if your car accident claim progresses to a court trial, a police report is typically not admissible in court. The reason for this is that a police report falls under the legal category of hearsay or speculation, which makes them unreliable in court.

However, the officer that responded to the scene may be able to testify on your behalf. Additionally, the officer is permitted to use the report to refresh his or her memory. This is especially important if the accident occurred several months to years before.

How to Get a Copy of Your Tennessee Police Report

As soon after your accident as possible, you should take steps to get a copy of your police report. In Tennessee, there is a $10.00 fee to get your copy, but you can do it all online through the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Does Your Police Report Contain Errors?

As soon as you receive your police report, check over every detail to make sure it is correct. Do you believe errors are unlikely on a police report? Think again. Police officers are human too, so mistakes do happen.

Information to check:

  • Be sure that all basic information about the crash is accurate (date, time, weather, etc.)
  • Verify the vehicle descriptions and the described damages
  • Any other factual details that you can easily prove with tangible evidence

If You Do Find an Error, What Can You Do

You do not want to delay getting your report, as resolving errors takes time, and it is best to do it while the officer from the accident may still remember your name. If you do find errors, here are some simple steps you can take to resolve them:

  • Contacting the officer from the accident and politely explain the error (and that you have proof)
  • Asking the officer to revise it - or asking how you can get the mistake corrected
  • If the officer refuses to correct the error, write up a clear, easy-to-read statement about the accident and include copies of the evidence that supports your claim.
  • Sending this information to the Department of Safety, referencing the officer and the police report number, asking that your documents be attached to the official report.

Injured in a Car Crash? Call Our Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Legal Options

After being involved in an accident that caused you serious harm, it is a good idea to speak with a licensed attorney as soon as possible. We understand that it can be overwhelming trying to manage your own recovery while you pursue a claim to recover compensation. Having an attorney on your side helps to ensure your best interests are protected throughout the legal process.

At Greg Coleman Law, our Knoxville-based auto accident lawyers have been helping injured victims for decades, and recovered millions in compensation on their behalf.

Contact our law offices today to learn about your legal options – at no cost or obligation to you. If we represent you, there are no fees or upfront costs to pay. We do not get paid unless you do.

We are prepared to help. Call: (865) 247-0080