Yes, it’s a good idea to get a police report after any type of vehicle accident. It serves as official documentation that can protect you in a potential insurance claim or lawsuit. By law, Virginia residents have to report a car accident to authorities if it results in injury, damage to attended property, or death.
What about minor collisions that cause minimal property damage? At the time of the incident, you may think calling the police is overkill, but it’s truly the best way to preserve your rights. Even in situations where all parties are amicable, and liability is not contested, there’s no telling what the other driver will say or do later on. They could attempt to sue you for vehicle repairs or an injury you didn’t cause.
Police reports are valuable documentation
Regardless of who is being blamed for the crash, you should request a copy of the police report. This document provides critical information for both your insurance provider and your car accident lawyer.
The reality is that few people are thinking clearly in the first moments after a car accident. You may be in a state of shock or injured, but completely unaware thanks to surging adrenaline. Injuries like whiplash can take time to show symptoms. In some cases, it may be several days before you get achy and notice that things are not quite right.
Without a police report, there is technically no official record of the accident, which can make it extremely difficult if future litigation arises. A police report is impartial third-party documentation that your car accident attorney will need. In the absence of this unbiased report, it’s your word against the other driver’s.
If you suspect that the other driver was impaired or distracted at the time of the accident, you want an officer on the scene to document and record what they see with full objectivity. Police are trained to question all involved parties and note observations about the accident in detail.
Information that is included in a police report
In addition to speaking to witnesses and calling emergency services as needed, officers will take down the following information:
- Time, date, and location of the accident
- All property damage sustained to vehicles or other objects
- Identifying information for all parties involved in the accident
- Any obvious injuries sustained by drivers, occupants, or pedestrians
- Identifying information of witnesses to the collision
- Driver statements on their side of the story
- Witness statements on their perspective of the collision
- Pertinent details about contributing factors like poor weather conditions, road hazards, etc.
- If a citation or ticket was issued
- Opinion as to the cause of the accident
Police reports are typically reviewed during settlement negotiations and can bolster your chances of securing a favorable award if the other party was at fault.
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