Home / Miscellaneous / Legal / All You Need to Know About Filing a Police Report for a Car Accident

All You Need to Know About Filing a Police Report for a Car Accident

Every year, there’s an average of 6 million vehicle accidents in the United States.

How do we know that? After each accident, police officers file an accident police report to keep track of what occurred. But if you’ve never been in an accident, you may be confused by the police report process.

Here’s a guide on all you need to know about filing a police report for a car accident.

What’s Included in a Police Accident Report?

Before learning when to file a police report, you must first understand what a police report is.

The accident police report is the police department’s way of tracking traffic accidents. Different police departments may have varying accident report templates, especially from state to state. But they all contain similar basic information.

Most police accident reports can include the following details:

  • Time and location

  • Weather conditions when the accident occurred

  • Estimate of damages

  • A narrative of how the accident occurred

  • Driver information, including home addresses and insurance information

  • Passenger information

  • Medical information if anyone was injured in the accident

  • Witness information and statement

  • Any photos or videos of the scene

But don’t worry, you aren’t required to gather all this information on your own. At the very least, you should write down contact information for the responding officer. It’s also wise to gather contact information and insurance details from any other drivers involved.

Why Do You Need an Accident Report?

After learning everything that’s included in an accident report, you may be tempted to not report your next accident. But there are many reasons why vehicle accident reports are important.

Most importantly to you, a police report is necessary to file a claim with your insurance company. Your accident doesn’t exist to insurance companies unless you can provide proof.

Since accident reports are public record, it’s a great resource for information.

Police departments gather reports to see if a certain intersection is especially dangerous or speeds are too high in certain areas. They can study trends and make areas safer with any necessary adjustments.

News agencies also use this public information to keep readers informed. We are all curious creatures, and when you pass an accident on your way home, odds are you’re wondering what happened. With the help of police reports, reporters can tell you exactly what happened.

Officers Can File a Report at the Scene 

Most road accident reporting happens right at the scene. When an accident happens, you should immediately contact law enforcement, who will arrive and work the scene.

Law enforcement will first figure out if anyone is hurt and make sure they receive medical attention. Then, they will try to reroute traffic so that no more accidents happen at the location.

Once the scene is safe, they will begin to address the accident itself. They will examine the damages and an road markings to figure out how the accident occurred. They will also talk to all drivers and any witnesses who saw the accident.

Most times, the officer will enter all necessary information into an accident report form while still on the scene. This helps ensure they don’t forget any crucial parts of the report. But the report won’t actually be filed until later.

So how long do you have to report an accident to the police? Well when an officer responds to an accident, they are in charge of filing the police report. You’ve done your job once you’ve contacted law enforcement.

It will take a few days depending on the department for the police report to be officially filed. Once the police report is filed, you can visit the department and pay for a copy of the official report. This is an essential step if you are filing a claim with your insurance because they’ll need the official report.

Filing a Police Report for a Car Accident Later

There are some instances where you may not have an officer respond to the initial accident scene.

For example, your car could have been struck by another vehicle in a parking lot and you didn’t realize it right away. Or maybe you were driving at night and struck an animal but decided to drive home before assessing the damage.

Either way, there are ways to create an accident report later. Just know, if there was another vehicle involved and you intentionally left the scene to avoid consequences, you could face criminal charges. This is why it’s important to file an accident report as soon as you are aware that an accident occurred.

The first step is calling the non-emergency phone number for your local dispatch department. Tell the dispatcher exactly what happened and let them know you are no longer on the scene.

The dispatcher will then contact an officer who presides in the area where the accident occurred. The officer will then either meet you at your current location or ask you to meet them at their department.

There, they will gather information from you to create the accident report.

Stay Safe on the Road by Being Informed

Now you know all about filing a police report for a car accident.

Remember that it’s always preferred to contact law enforcement from the scene of an accident as soon as it happens. This allows the officer to gather more evidence, evaluate all damages, and file the official report quicker. Just because you don’t notify authorities doesn’t mean the accident didn’t happen, it just leaves you liable for criminal charges.

Want more great advice on driving safely? Bookmark this site and check back often for all the best advice and informational posts.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

Check Also

Romantic Things You Can Say To Make Your Night Special

Romance starts before you even get to the bedroom. Here are a couple of ideas …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.