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What is a Car Accident Police Report and How Can it Help Me?

Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Do I Need a Police Report Following a Car Accident?

Yes, you do need to file a police report. One of the very first steps to take after you are in a car accident, is to call the police to file a police report. Whether the crash resulted in serious injury or minor property damage like a fender bender, filing a police report is a smart move that will save you time, money, and energy in the long run.

Not only will it benefit you for an insurance claim and a potential auto accident settlement, but it is the law. Indiana State Law requires you to give notice of the accident to law enforcement.

Immediately Following an Accident

Before you make a police report, there are a few actions you should take:

  • Proceed to safety: move to a safe location in the proximity of the accident site
  • Check for injuries: if anyone has a severe injury, seek medical attention immediately
  • Don’t admit fault
  • Gather information: collect relevant information from those involved and eyewitnesses
  • Call authorities to file a report

What Is A Police Report?

Filing a police report is required by law and a necessary step after a collision. But what exactly is a police report?

A car accident police report is the document written by the investigating officer that summarizes the accident and scene of the collision. In their report, the officer will include:

  • Description of the accident
  • Date and time the accident occurred
  • Diagram of the scene
  • Description of the visibility, weather, and location
  • Personal information of all parties involved including insurance details and statements
  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Violations of law
  • Their own personal statement of observations and opinions regarding the accident

It’s important to gather the investigating officer’s information, such as their name and badge number, for future reference as needed.

What Does a Police Report Do?

A police report can be used for evidence or leverage in pursuing an insurance settlement following a car accident.

It can be used as a resource to negotiate with insurance companies, further investigate the accident, and build a strong case. In court, a police statement cannot be used as evidence (more on this below), yet can provide evidence of certain facts such as witness contacts, and provide information about the case. Because police reports are considered hearsay, it’s of interest to work with an experienced attorney when filing a lawsuit.

How to File a Police Report

When you are involved in a minor car accident, law enforcement may not come to the scene of the crash. You are not legally obligated to report minor collisions if there is only minor property damage. However, it is recommended that you still file a report. Having a police report can be helpful if you choose to pursue legal action within the statute of limitations.

If law enforcement refuses to come to the accident location, you are able to file a police report after the fact. Gather as much evidence as you can from the scene, including:

  • Photographs and videos of the accident
  • Personal and insurance information of everyone involved
  • A detailed description of the scene: weather, visibility, and location (street names, mile markers, etc.)
  • Date and time of the accident
  • Witness contact information

Once you have collected your evidence, go to the nearest police station to file your car accident report.

Does a Police Report Automatically Go to Insurance?

No, a police report does not automatically go to insurance. Insurance companies will have access to the police report once you or the other party files an insurance claim. Insurance companies will also conduct their own investigation of the accident.

How to Get a Police Report for Insurance

Once you file a claim, your insurance company will request the identification number. They will contact the police department and gain access to the police report. If the other party involved in the accident reports the incident to their insurance company, the insurance companies are able to share information.

Be careful what you say when reporting the accident to your insurance agency. How you communicate with insurance companies may impact the outcome of your case. Get advice from your attorney before speaking with the insurance adjustor.

How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident

You’ve gone through the steps of filing a car accident report and then hiring a car accident attorney. Now, you need a police report for a car accident settlement and/or to file an insurance claim.

If the officer came to the accident, they will give you a receipt of the police report that includes an identification number. So, how do you obtain a police report in Indiana? There are a few different ways.

How to request a police report:

  1. Request your report online
  2. Call your local law enforcement’s traffic division and provide the identification number
  3. Request your report from your insurance company if they already have a copy of the accident report
  4. Go in person to request your report

How to get my police report online:

  • Visit the Indiana crash report site
  • Select Indiana
  • Input the identification number
  • Provide your last name and date of the accident
  • Provide the reporting agency

If you do not have the identification number, contact local law enforcement. Provide the date, time, and location of the accident and the officer should be able to assist you.

Common Questions

Do You Have to Pay for a Police Report?

If you request the police report online or through the police department, there is a fee of around $15. If you go through your insurance agent, they typically will not charge you.

Does a Police Report Go on Your Record?

No, a police report does not go on your criminal record because it is not a conviction.

Is a Police Report Admissible in a Civil Case?

If your case moves to trial in your state’s circuit court, police reports are considered “hearsay,” meaning it is inadmissible evidence. Can incident reports be used in court? To an extent. As stated above, police reports are useful for building a case and negotiating a settlement. So why are police reports hearsay? Because the reporting officer did not directly witness the car accident. Hearsay is also referred to as out of court statements. 

Are Police Reports Admissible in Criminal Cases?

Not only is a police report inadmissible in a civil case, but they are inadmissible in criminal cases as well under Indiana’s Rules of Evidence.

Contact an Auto Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, contact the experienced Indianapolis auto accident attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham right away. Our legal team can guide you through every step; from how to get a police report for a car accident to fighting for your compensation in the courtroom. Call 317.920.6400 for a free case evaluation.

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