Car accidents occur every day. Last year in Texas, one car crash was reported nearly every minute. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that over 3,500 people were killed and over 17,000 injured in car accidents. Accidents are sadly common. While the police always respond to the most serious crashes, there are other times when the drivers and passengers involved in the accident leave the scene without contacting authorities. Typically, they feel the accident was “minor” and don’t believe any injuries have been suffered. This is a mistake, however, and Texans should always contact the police to file an accident report when involved in any type of accident.
There Is No Such Thing as a “Minor” Accident or Injury
Regardless of the severity of the accident, it’s important to have an official record of the crash in case it is needed in the future. It is possible for accident victims to feel fine just after the crash, but have an injury present itself after the fact. Additionally, an injury that may seem insignificant at the time can develop into a more serious condition. Some injuries, like brain and spinal cord injuries, can take weeks or even months to display symptoms. They are, however, very serious injuries that need to be addressed by a doctor. Those injuries and others can affect one’s ability to work and to enjoy life as they did before the accident. At those times, accident victims may want to pursue legal action against those responsible for the crash. This can be difficult if there is no official record of the accident filed with authorities.
What Information Is Contained in a Police Report?
Even for seemingly minor crashes, a police report offers valuable insight into the accident. Typically, a police report contains:
- The date and time of the accident
- The location of the accident
- Who was involved in the accident
- Property damaged in the accident
- Injuries sustained in the accident
- Statements of those who witnessed the accident
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Description of weather and traffic factors at the time of the accident
- A record of citations issued to anyone involved with the accident
Even if it is not possible for police officers to visit the accident scene, victims or others can obtain this information. Then, a report can be filed at the nearest police station.
How Does a Police Report Help My Texas Car Accident Case?
It is true that a police report is inadmissible in a trial. It is considered hearsay – the officer who authored the report would have to appear to testify to the details of the accident. However, the report is still very valuable. It offers victims and their attorneys:
- An unbiased telling of events to use in negotiations with insurance companies. Offered by a police officer, the report is ostensibly an unbiased statement of the facts of the accident. The officer who creates the report is a third party who can offer information without the emotional investment and bias of those involved.
- Contact information. Any witnesses or others with important knowledge of the crash will be mentioned in the police report, including their contact information. Many times, the witnesses are strangers to the accident victim. It is important to know how to contact them so they can offer supporting details.
- Evidence of liability. While a police report does not bind those involved in an accident, it does offer victims a solid point to start negotiations with an insurance company. If the at-fault driver was issued a citation or even if the reporting officer states in the report who was to blame, this can help strengthen a claim and lead to a quicker settlement.
When Do I Need to File a Police Report?
The Texas Department of Transportation recommends calling the police if you are involved in a traffic accident. It does require accident victims to file a police report within 10 days of the accident if:
- There are injuries or a fatality.
- You suspect property damage exceeds $1,000.
- You suspect the other driver is intoxicated, unlicensed, uninsured, or attempts to leave the scene.
Failing to report an accident that meets any of these conditions could result in a fine of $500. More importantly, the sooner the report is filed, the stronger your case can be. As time passes, some details of the accident may be forgotten. It is best for victims and witnesses to offer their version of events as soon as possible.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car crash, you need to take the right steps to protect your rights. If you’ve suffered injuries, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the experienced accident attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP, to learn more about how to proceed. Our legal team can help you file a police report and pursue the compensation you deserve.