This post is also available in: Español
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90 people die daily from road accidents. However, not every accident is fatal. Although some of the most common vehicle accidents are minor and do not result in any injuries, it is important to be prepared after any wreck. In fact, what you do within the first ten minutes after an accident can severely impact your life. After an accident, the parties involved might decide to not call the police. They only exchange pertinent information regarding the accident so that everyone can consult with their insurance companies. But what happens if there are costly repairs involved and no police report to prove who was at fault?
What does the law say?
Although most states require that you report the car accident immediately, filing a police report largely depends on the state you are in. For instance, in Texas, you are required to file the crash report if the accident results in fatal injuries, death, or property damage worth $1,000 or more. Failing to file the crash report could result in serious repercussions including penalties of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment. Some insurance policies even require that the motorists file a police report within 24 hours of the accident. While filing a police report is not required all the time, leaving the scene of an accident without filing one (even if both drivers agree to) might result in a lower insurance payout to you. However, some drivers may decide not to file a police or crash report for the following reasons:
- Police absence – you will not get a police report if they were not called. As a rule, you should call the police even if no one involved is hurt. This is the only way to get a law enforcement officer to inspect the wreck and fill out the necessary reports.
- There are no significant damages – even in the presence of a police officer, you might opt not to report any damages that are less than $1,000. The officer may only facilitate the exchange of pertinent personal and insurance information between the parties involved and help you complete the crash report.
- If no one is hurt
- If the accident happened in a private property
What happens if I fail to file a police report?
After an accident, it is common for all parties involved to be shaken up. It is also likely that the details and facts surrounding the accident are somewhat cloudy even a day or two after the accident. Besides, some injuries may manifest in the hours or days after the accident. Injuries such as concussions and/or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) do not manifest immediately after a motor vehicle accident, these type of injuries can be subtle and may take days for a person to realize they incurred them if they do not seek medical attention right away.
An ideal situation in which you do not need to file a police report for, would be if the damage was minor, no injuries occurred, and all parties involved were licensed and fully insured. However, the problem often arises after when people have had time to think about the accident and have different versions of the incident they relay to insurance companies.
Many drivers do not think they need a police report immediately after the accident occurs, but it is important to consider that as soon as everyone leaves the scene, it may be too late for a police report. Without a police report, the chances are high that the other driver may sue you for damages to their vehicles or medical problems sustained after the accident. Unless you thoroughly document any evidence, it will be your word against the other party’s. However, an experienced attorney will be able to prove your case even without a police report.
Failing to file a police report can significantly impact your ability to obtain reimbursement for monetary damages for your injury and damage to your vehicle. Many times, auto insurance companies will not even provide a rental car until liability has been determined. Insurance companies will make any excuse they can to deny or delay rightful and just claims. However, if you do not obtain a police report, it is important to consider other methods to prove your case.
Alternate ways of proving your case in the absence of a police report
While a police report provides clarity on what happened, it is only treated as a third party account in a court of law. They are not an instrument of justice as they are only a combination of facts and opinions. While the location, date, and time of the accidents are facts, the rest, including the assignment of fault is the police officer’s opinion. Although police reports are useful during the negotiation of settlements, they are not always admissible in a court of law.
If you did not obtain a police report after your accident, an attorney can help you prove your case through the following ways:
Often, the parties involved in the accident disagree about the chain of events that led to the accident and who was at fault. However, in most cases, there are third-party witnesses who saw what happened. After an accident, make sure you note down the details of the eyewitnesses.
Video recording from surveillance or traffic cameras
As the world becomes more and more digitized, it is most likely that the accident was captured by surveillance, traffic, or even a cell phone camera. Many drivers now have dash cameras installed in their vehicle which can record up to a 360-degree view of what happens to not only them but to other vehicles on the road. A video recording provides accurate details of what happened without having to rely on a third party’s perception of what happened. We will go to any lengths to obtain any available video recordings to help you prove your case.
The car itself
In the absence of a police report, the car itself may be considered sufficient evidence. Therefore, take photos of any physical damages and debris caused by the collision. We have a team of experts who can establish the extent of damage to your car and examine any evidence at the accident scene. These experts also assess your physical injuries to prove what exactly happened during the accident.
Accident scene recreation
Using witnesses’ statements and photos of the accident scene, our firm has the resources to recreate the accident scene exactly as it happened. Juries usually find evidence from such quite compelling.
What happens if the other driver is not willing to wait for the police or the police are not able to come?
In some instances, the police may take too long to arrive or they may not come at all. Sometimes, the other driver may pressure you to leave the scene without contacting the police. If they refuse to wait and there is nothing you can do to make them stay at the scene, consider asking the other drive to provide a recorded video statement or written statement in exchange. If given a written statement, be sure that the statement is signed and dated. Any statement provided should include a description of how the accident happened and acceptance of responsibility for having cause the auto accident.
As with any accident, document the scene. Take pictures and videos, especially if the other driver refuses to wait for the police. Take a photograph of the other driver, his insurance, and his vehicle (including the license plate). The more documentation you can provide, the easier it is to settle a case.
Can I file an insurance claim without the police report?
While you do not need a police report when making a claim with your insurance company, it can speed up the process. Without a police report, it is hard for your insurer to prove your word. Thus, they might be unwilling to pay the full claim amount.
A police report backs up your claim, especially if you claim the other party was at fault. The report provides details on how the accident occurred, who was responsible according to the police, visible damage to the vehicles, and injuries on the parties involved.
If you were injured, a police report protects your right to receive medical care. Your insurance company may delay or deny compensating you for the medical expenses for injuries sustained from an accident they cannot verify.
Why involve an attorney after an accident?
If you are filing a personal injury claim and you have no police report of the accident, you need solid legal guidance from experienced attorneys. We have handled quite a number of cases without police reports. Our highly trained and knowledgeable law experts will ensure that you are rightfully compensated.
Have you been involved in a car accident lately and didn’t file a police report? Get a legal lion on your case. Led by Ryan “The Lion” Thompson and our able team of attorneys we can help you prove your case. Contact us today at 844-308-8180 and explore the legal options available to you.