If you find yourself dealing with the police, you’re likely dealing with an unpleasant situation. You may be a victim of a crime, have been involved in an accident or be the accused. Other than enforcing the law, it’s the responsibility of the police to provide information to the courts about the details of the incident, may it be through a testimony or a police report.
In the case of accidents and personal injury claims, how important are police reports and why are they needed? Let’s take a look at some facts and points to ponder
What Are Police Reports?
Police reports are written documents which are made and filed by after a crime, accident or incidents of concern are reported to law enforcement. They contain the name of the parties involved including the victim, suspect and witnesses, the classification of the offense or incident and other needed data.
- They help protect your rights. Without it, your right to justice and proper proceedings MAY not be met or observed.
- Assist judicial proceedings, allowing them to go smoothly. Police reports are always the centerpiece of court proceedings, regardless if they contain the whole story or not.
- Prevent false accusations and cover-ups. Without a police report, you could be placed at fault even if you were the victim. Both parties can end up accusing each other. A police report can clear up obscurities and present the cold hard facts.
Importance in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury lawsuits in California are mostly civil cases, and no one will likely go to jail – the parties held liable will be required to pay for the damages. So, why are police reports needed in these cases?
- Police reports help determine who the offending party is. Although police reports are mostly neutral, they dish out the details which help determine who is responsible for the incident, may it be a car crash caused by road rage or an off-road accident.
- It establishes witness credibility. Police reports are vital in determining if the witness testimonies hold water in civil courts. For example, if a car accident happened right outside a fast food chain and a witness who claimed to have seen it says anything conflicted, the police report will be able to determine if he’s telling the truth or not.
- Insurance claims. Not filing a police report complicates your relations with your insurance company. If you do not file a report, your company may not reimburse your for the damage done to your vehicle. Keep in mind your insurer needs to know the details of the incident, the offending party and his insurance company so they can pursue damages.
Regardless if the incident is a minor one or not, the first group of people you should call is the local police department. No, it is not an overreaction – it’s standard procedure and the right thing to do. Other than your safety and wellness, the next thing you should secure is a police report. You’ve already gotten yourself in a hole by getting involved in an accident – don’t go deeper by not getting a police report! Doing so will help your personal injury attorney and allow you to receive an optimum amount of damages!