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  • How To File An Accident Report With The Police

    How To File An Accident Report With The Police

    Perhaps the most important step in filing a police accident report is actually the first one you'll take. Namely, contacting the police.

    After that, a law enforcement officer will guide the process. You'll be asked a series of questions about the auto accident, designed to piece together an accurate account of what happened. The officer will also interview the other driver, and, if applicable, passengers and witnesses.

    It's difficult to be composed after an accident. After all, you may be injured, or your car may have suffered extensive damage. You may be justifiably worried about your physical or financial well-being, or the inconvenience the accident and filing a car insurance claim will cause you.

    But, despite this, try to remember as clearly as you can about the accident sequence of events, and portray this in a reasonably calm and unemotional way to the police.

    What Happens Next?

    Once the law officer decides he or she has enough information, they will submit the report to their department. Usually, after a day or two, you can obtain a copy to review. Your car insurance company may also ask you to forward a copy to them for the auto claims process.

    Depending on the accident, the police officer may cite one (or both) drivers for traffic violations.

    While at the accident scene, it's smart to ask for a card with the officer's name on it. That's in case you need to contact the officer later. The officer's name appears on the report, but it can sometimes be a challenge to read the handwriting.

    Why File a Police Report After an Accident?

    Depending on where you live, you may be required to contact law enforcement and file a report. Even if you don't have to do so, you still should even after what appears to be a minor auto accident.

    Sometimes the damage done - either to your vehicle, yourself, or the other parties involved - isn't apparent immediately after the accident. And, even if it is, you can never be sure about what the other driver or any passengers will say about the accident days or weeks afterward.

    That's why it's important to have an official document put together by an unbiased third party to lean upon later.

    Additionally, a police report facilitates the claims process with insurance companies, and can mean a quicker payment for you. Car insurance carriers view a police report as a vital part of the accident puzzle. And, so does the judicial system, should your accident escalate into in a court case your attorney will need a copy of the police report.

    Do You Have to File an Accident Claim?

    Just because you filed a police report doesn't mean you must file a claim with your insurance company.

    In the case of a property damage claim, for example, if the damage is insignificant and you have a high deductible, it might be smart just to pay the expenses directly without involving your carrier. Or, perhaps you don't want to face the possible repercussions with your insurer from filing the claim, such as increased premiums or dropped coverage at renewal time.

    But, no matter what, you should still file a police report.