One of the biggest jobs of law enforcement is to handle car accidents. The police are tasked with investigating crashes involving injuries or death and determining who is to blame. The police can only do their jobs if the people involved in accidents report their crashes and collisions.
Drivers often want to know whether they need to file a police report after an accident. This is not the responsibility of drivers, as official reports are filed by the police who investigate accidents. For this report to be filed, drivers must report their accidents to law enforcement. Not all accidents are legally required to be reported, but you should always report any crash. A police report contains extremely helpful information for an insurance claim and any attempt to seek legal recovery.
If you were in a car accident and are not sure whether you must report it to law enforcement, contact our Indiana car accident attorneys for help at (219) 322-1166. We will provide a free case review and answer your questions in minutes.
While you can call and report your car accident to the police, the police are responsible for actually preparing and filing a crash report. Police reports are required to contain various information about a crash and the people involved. More serious accidents involving greater injuries or damage are more likely to undergo lengthier investigations. The more complicated an accident is, the longer it might take law enforcement to complete and file a police report. For very serious cases, including those involving a fatality, police often take detailed measurements and drawings of the crash scene.
Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers can obtain your crash report for you, free of charge, while we conduct a free case review. You may obtain the completed accident report from the police department responsible for investigating your crash or online, although there is usually a fee to do so.
Car accidents involving bodily injuries and death must be reported to the police. Similarly, accidents involving property damage to anything other than your vehicle should be reported. However, this is only the case if the owner of the damaged property cannot be located or if the damage is particularly serious. For example, if you hit a parked car or plow through someone’s fence and the owner is not around, you must report the accident. Reporting requirements can be found under Indiana Code § 9-26-1-1.1.
You might not be legally required to report minor accidents with no serious bodily injuries. Even so, you should contact the police and report your crash so that law enforcement can file an official report and there is a record of what happened. Even if you do not believe you suffered any injuries, you might still have to file an insurance claim, and police reports are very important to this process. Our Hammond, IN car accident lawyers can help you obtain your police report and file an insurance claim.
Not only that, but minor injuries could turn serious over time. For example, people often do not realize they have suffered whiplash until hours or even days after a crash. It is always good to call the police and get an accident report, just in case. Unfortunately, we have seen numerous cases where our clients discovered their injuries days after the accident and their ability to recover was jeopardized because they had no official record of the incident.
According to the statute mentioned above, any accident involving injuries or death must be reported immediately. The same goes for accidents involving property damage where the property owner cannot be located.
Not all drivers involved in accidents are capable of making a report. This might be because they are injured and cannot call the police or 911. It might also be more important for injured drivers to receive medical attention than speak to the police about their accident. In cases like these, drivers do not have to report the accident immediately, but they should do so as soon as reasonably possible. The statute does not give specific time frames, but it should be done as soon as you are able.
For example, suppose you were T-boned by another driver in an intersection and were seriously injured. Since the crash involves serious injuries, you (and the other driver) are legally required to report the accident. However, you need medical attention first. It is acceptable to defer filing a report until after calling 911 and getting to the hospital. Be warned, you should not wait longer than necessary to make the report.
Of course, in serious accidents involving ambulance transport, police are nearly always called by first responders or others and are already likely to be involved. You do not need to separately report an accident that the police have already responded to and are investigating.
Accidents that do not involve bodily harm, death, or property damage to anything other than the vehicles involved do not have to be reported. These kinds of accidents are often more of a nuisance than an emergency. Even though it is not required, you can and should still report such an accident to the police because it will be helpful in your property damage claim and also to your injury case if injuries are later discovered.
People often feel more comfortable reporting an accident, even a minor one, because they get a police report. The report can be used to help get insurance claims paid. It can also protect you from claims by the other people involved in the accident. Sometimes, people in minor car accidents will attempt fraudulent schemes or scams. They might politely exchange information with you only to later claim you were at fault in the accident and file threaten to sue you. A police report is very helpful to create official documentation of damages and injuries so you do not get taken advantage of. In addition to the police report, the responding officers are also valuable witnesses in case of any disputes over what happened.
Also, sometimes real injuries do not become apparent until later. For example, whiplash is a common car accident injury that does not always appear immediately. Whiplash pain sometimes shows up a few days after the accident. Concussions and other brain injuries are also not always immediately apparent. It’s important to report the accident to the police even if you do not believe you are injured because your injuries might surface later and you might need to make a claim for legal recovery.
If you were in an accident and did not file a police report, you should discuss your situation with an attorney. Our Fort Wayne car accident lawyers can help you determine if your accident is still reportable. While a crash report is very helpful, we have also had success in recovering for clients even in instances where there was no crash report. Doing so, however, requires a creative approach, a thorough investigation, and developing other important forms of evidence.
Call Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166 for a free evaluation of your case.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.