Last updated on March 22, 2019 by Accident Monitoring Team
When it comes to recovering after a car accident, the contents of a police report can play a major role in your ability to make an insurance claim. This makes it crucial to understand how to get a police report for a car accident, what goes into that report, and how both insurers and lawyers can use that information to influence your insurance claim. Here’s what you need to know about how a police accident report can impact that claim.
Why Police Reports are Important
The police report for your accident is an important document. It can, and will, play a major part in your claims process, and there are a number of ways that your police report can help protect your interests in regards to any damage your vehicle sustained or any injuries you might have suffered.
Car accidents are notoriously traumatic events, and you’re likely not going to be thinking straight in the immediate wake of one. Having a police officer on the scene to record everything they see, hear, and learn about the accident helps minimize important facts that might otherwise be overlooked because you’re so shaken up — or if you’re too injured to be able to deal with anything else.
Texas Police Report Procedures
Whenever there’s a car accident in Texas where there’s more than $1000 in damages or someone suffered an injury, it’s standard operating procedure for police responding to the scene of an accident to fill out a full crash report. Under state law, this report needs to be filed within 10 days.
There are a number of things that go into your standard police report. Different jurisdictions might have different preferences — an Austin police accident report might have a format that has little in common with a Houston police accident report, for example. However, regardless of where your accident occurs, it’s likely to have the following information:
- Description of the accident
- The number of passengers in each vehicle.
- The name and insurance information for both drivers.
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident (including passengers, if any).
- Any damage sustained to the vehicles.
- Any injuries drivers, passengers, or pedestrians sustained in the accident.
Once the officer records all this information, he or she will then write a full report and file it with their department. You’re entitled to a copy of this report, which is typically made available to you one or two days after the official report is filed.
How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident
If you need help understanding how to get a police report for a car accident, you’re not alone. Obtaining your own copy of a police report isn’t difficult in and of itself. Yet the wake of an accident is always a chaotic and stressful time, especially if you’ve been injured seriously enough to require extensive treatment. Yet even though you’ve got a number of things on your mind already, it’s important not to let getting a copy of your police report slip through the cracks.
One of the best steps to take is to request the responding officer’s contact information to follow up in the days after the accident. Most police officers can offer you a card with their name and phone number on it, which can make calling their department to request a copy of your report much easier. This also helps in case the officer’s handwriting is hard to decipher, as you can get clarification more easily once you receive the report.
Why the Content of that Report Matters to Your Insurance Provider
Nine times out of ten, your insurance provider is going to ask you to provide them with a copy of your police report if you make a car insurance claim related to the accident. The reason for this is clear: a police report is considered an official document, and insurers can rely on the information these reports contain to make determinations regarding things like how quickly they can process your claim and provide you any compensation you’re owed.
This makes it important to ensure that your police report is as complete and accurate as possible. Missing or incorrect information can slow the claims process to a crawl as you seek out the officer that wrote the original report and ask them to correct or amend their report. While you should always document the accident yourself to supplement the police report, this report will always carry a large amount of weight, so always look over your report for accuracy before sending it to the insurance company.
Police Reports: a Final Word
In the wake of a car crash where someone was injured or where your car was damaged, you can rely on the information in a police report to support your car insurance claim. However, the information in that claim has to be accurate for the best results. Insurers can use police reports to speed up claims processing, which means that an accurate police report submitted to your insurer in a timely manner can help you receive any compensation you’re entitled to after being involved in an accident.