What is a car accident report?

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Key takeaways...
  • No matter how minor or major a car accident is, always file a car accident report — particularly with police documentation
  • Be accurate, be detailed, and never lie
  • Lawsuits don’t happen at the scene of a car accident; they happen after the drivers go home
  • Remember to get the police officer and their precinct’s contact information in case you need the car accident’s details later

Anytime a car accident happens, it’s very wise to file a car accident report with law enforcement.

A police report taken at the scene of an accident will document what happened and provide details which both car insurance companies can use when trying to determine who was at fault or how a claim should be paid.

Although most minor accidents never have a report filed, if you want to file a car insurance claim, it’s always better to have a car accident report on file with the police department.

People commonly change stories, forget small details, or often don’t have all the answers car insurance companies need to determine fault.

Lawsuits do not happen at the scene of the accident – they happen after the drivers go home.

In many states (especially those without no-fault car insurance laws), drivers can be sued for even minor accidents, and a police report will help document facts that may be in question with regards to your liability.

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Tips on What to Do After a Car Accident

#1  File An Accurate and Detailed Accident Report

It’s natural to feel shook up and more concerned about calming down than remembering details at the scene of an accident but never lie. Just tell a police officer the facts. Everyone makes mistakes.

Whenever you file a police report, it’s important to remember this legal document will be used and referred to many times during the claims process to help determine fault.

If inaccurate information is on the report or items missing, it can potentially delay your car insurance claim and/or subject you to questions of who was at fault even if you walked away believing the other party was to blame.

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#2 Always File

No matter how minor the damage, always file a report.

Many times medical problems happen after an accident, and you never know when someone will hire an attorney to sue you for even $500 plus only a car insurance company can determine who is at fault.

#3 Know Who to Contact When You Get Home

Most police officers will give you a card or phone number to the precinct where the car accident report will be filed.

However, you must remember to get this information, otherwise trying to track down a certain police officer if the report is not in the system can be difficult and frustrating.

Car accident reports are a part of public record and help car insurance companies determine risk, but they are also often required by law.

Before operating any vehicle, you might want to contact your police department or DMV and inquire about the rules of when filing a police report is mandatory.

There are huge fines for leaving the scene of an accident, even an accident in a parking lot. Even if police arrived on the scene after your departure and filed a report, a filed report will be your biggest clue if you’ll be fined or not.

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