Updated September 1, 2022
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.
Before you make a police report, there are a few actions you should take:
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:
It’s important to gather the investigating officer’s information, such as their name and badge number, for future reference as needed.
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.
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:
Once you have collected your evidence, go to the nearest police station to file your car accident report.
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.
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.
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:
How to get my police report online:
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.
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.
No, a police report does not go on your criminal record because it is not a conviction.
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.
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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