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Car Accident Police Report: What Is It and How Can It Help?

Car Accident Police Report: What Is It and How Can It Help?

If you have suffered a car accident in Crown Point, Indiana, or elsewhere in the state, the police will probably come to the scene and create a report on your car accident. Consequently, you need to know where to get a report on a car accident. The most convenient way to obtain Indiana car accident reports is online at BuyCrash.

What Is a Police Report in a Car Accident?

The police can create a police report for any number of reasons. Automobile-related police reports include police reports for vehicle thefts, carjackings, and car crashes, among other reasons. In a car accident report, the police will conduct a basic investigation into a car accident.

So what is in a police report for car accidents? A car accident report, which Indiana calls a vehicle crash report, includes the responding officer’s conclusions about the accident.

What Does a Car Accident Police Report Include?

So exactly what is in a police report for automobile accidents? Much of its contents include information to which the officer might testify at a trial or deposition, such as:

  • The date, time, and location of the accident;
  • Names and contact details of drivers, passengers, and anyone injured or killed in the accident;
  • A description of any injuries;
  • Names and contact details of witnesses;
  • A description of any property damage;
  • A description of the vehicles involved, even to the point of recording their VINs;
  • Names and badge numbers of responding officers;
  • A description of road and weather conditions;
  • The officer’s opinion of the causes of the accident.

The police report may contain other information as well. Remember, you cannot simply assume that all of the information is complete or accurate. The information in a police report can be challenged.

What Does a Police Report Do?

crash report

The creation of a police report is a standard part of the ordinary car accident reporting procedure. So what is a police report used for? The most important use of a car accident police report is at the negotiating table, where your lawyer or the insurance company might use it to advance their position on your claim.

Why Do I Need a Police Report?

A police report can be a critical tool for resolving your auto collision claim. Police reports are generally not admissible as evidence. However, most car accident claims are settled at the negotiating table. 

Following are some of the advantages of obtaining a police report on car accidents: 

  • The insurance company will probably require a crash report copy before issuing a settlement offer.
  • Many states require any collisions between motor vehicles where someone is injured to be reported; a police collision report satisfies this requirement, as the responding officer will file an official report with the state.
  • Both insurance adjusters and juries highly respect the word of a police officer. A police officer normally has no reason to lie as a neutral third-party witness.

Remember, you can request a copy of your motor vehicle’scrash report and challenge any false or misleading information in a police report; car accidents are complicated, and mistakes are not unheard of.

Are There Penalties for Not Reporting an Accident? 

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles requires a crash report to be filed within ten days of when the accident occurred. If the parties involved fail to do so, the penalties include revoking the car’s registration and the driver’s license. Furthermore, failing to report an auto collision is considered a Class C misdemeanor, with penalties that include up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

If you don’t report a motor vehicle accident, you may not be able to successfully pursue an auto collision claim from the at-fault driver. Your car wreck attorney uses the crash data in the police report to prove your compensation case. 

The police report is an objective analysis of the facts of the car crash and the determination by the investigating officer as to what caused the collision. It includes witness accounts from the drivers involved, the date and time the accident occurred, and the road conditions and weather at the time. 

The crash data in the report backs up what you say happened when filing your insurance claim, proving that your recklessness didn't cause injuries and vehicle damage.

Wondering How to File a Car Collision Report in Crown Point, IN?

motor vehicles

Filing a crash report doesn’t have to be difficult. Indiana allows parties involved to self-report, and you can file your report online if the collision meets certain criteria.

Reasons to File Your Own Police Report 

Some collisions may not require an immediate response from a law enforcement officer. If the accident is minor, then you can still file a crash report. Official accident reports are still helpful for several reasons.

For example, the report gives you an opportunity to add the full scope of your vehicle damage. Not everything is evident immediately after the collision — a certified mechanic may uncover more damage you can’t see.

Accident reports protect you from future liability. The other driver may have agreed that they were responsible at the scene and exchanged contact information. However, later on, when you attempt to file an insurance claim, you may realize that they’ve told their insurance company that you caused the collision.

Police reports are a powerful tool in future litigation

Accident reports can expedite your settlement, as all the crash data is on an official report

Wondering How to Get a Copy of the Police Report for a Car Accident in Crown Point, Indiana? 

Can I get a police report after an accident? Yes! There are several reasons people need crash reports. Indiana makes it easy to request a copy of the report online or from the station where you filed the crash report. Insurance companies often require crash reports to process claims, and you’ll also want one for your records. Usually, you just need the date of the crash and a little more info.

Obtain a Copy of Your Accident Report Online

It’s important to know how to get a police report for a car accident. Without the crash report, you could have trouble getting compensation from your or the other party’s insurance company. To obtain a certified copy of Crown Point police reports, go to the BuyCrash site, sign up for a membership, and then input this information: 

  • The state the collision happened in (Indiana)
  • Your name
  • The relevant police department of the law enforcement officer who responded to the wreck
  • The date of the crash
  • The location of the motor vehicles collision, usually the nearest intersection

You can also input the report number, but you shouldn't need it as long as you have the rest of the crash data. The Indiana State Police has crash records available online. You need the jurisdiction of the accident or the name of the investigating officer, the date, and a little more personal information. 

Wondering How to Get a Physical Copy of the Police Report? 

How long does a police report take after an accident? Police crash reports are usually completed within a few days of the accident. Some crash records are available as public records, while others are limited to the drivers involved, representatives of the parties, and their respective insurance companies.

Your personal crash records aren’t complete without the police report. Crash reports play a large part in the result of your car wreck claim, so make sure you carefully read the crash report and identify any errors right away.

Consider obtaining a physical copy of the accident report from your own insurance company. One of the first steps your insurance company takes is to request an official crash record, and your adjuster will likely be able to send you a copy for free.

Alternatively, you can request a copy of the report from the department that compiled it. But you may have to pay a small fee. Crash reports are usually available online, but a certified copy may have to be picked up in person or mailed. Call the police department in the accident location to learn how to get copies of crash reports.

Are Police Reports Admissible in Court? 

police report on car accident

Although crash reports are commonly used to negotiate settlement claims, a police report as evidence in court is a little more complicated. Usually, litigants in small claims courts, where a minor accident would be settled, can use police reports to back up their cases. Judges typically make allowances for lay plaintiffs and defendants and don’t expect you to know the rules of evidence like a car accident lawyer would.

However, if the case goes to trial, both parties are bound by the rules of evidence. The police report may or may not fall within admissible evidence.

The report could be ruled out as hearsay evidence because it is an out-of-court statement. All of the witness statements in crash reports would be hearsay since they were recorded at the crash scene and not in the courtroom.

Some jurisdictions rule police reports as business or public records; therefore, part or all of the report could be admissible.

Should I Report a Car Accident to the Insurance Company?

​​Yes, you should, at least if you are planning to seek compensation. Reporting a car accident to insurance, however, requires you to watch what you say. Make sure you consult with your lawyer in advance to learn how to report a car accident to insurance. This will keep you from making any statements that the insurance company could use against you later.

Will My Car Insurance Company Get the Car Accident Report? 

Insurance companies work hard to get all the facts before they pay out a claim, so your claims adjuster will probably get a copy of the report to match its details with the information you provide when you report the collision. 

If the other driver files a claim for damages with your insurance provider, they will likely get the crash data and possibly conduct their investigation into the incident.

How Will My Insurance Company Use the Car Accident Police Report?

Although the police report may not be admitted as evidence in court, if your insurance company decides to fight the other party’s claim, it could play a role in collision claims settled out of court. 

If the police report indicates that the bulk of the blame for the accident lies at the fault of one party, or if the report contains enough evidence to draw a conclusion about fault for the crash (such as a breathalyzer performed at the scene that indicates one party was driving under the influence), then both parties may push to settle out of court.

Your insurance adjuster will likely reach out to other parties involved in the accident, such as passengers and witnesses whose names and contact information are contained in the report.

How to Read Your Indiana Auto Accident Report

police car accident reports

Take a closer look at how a typical Indiana police report of motor vehicle crashes is laid out.

Page 1

The first page is an overview of the incident, including the time, location, and details of the vehicles involved. You’ll note the road conditions and any other contributing information that could relate to the cause of the crash. The investigating officer may indicate a primary cause, but not always. 

Page 2

Read page two carefully to look for any errors or omissions. Look at the placement of the motor vehicles involved — is it right? Does the narrative that the responding officer described fit what happened? The narrative in the police report is sort of a catchall for details that don’t fit anywhere else.

Page 3

Each motor vehicle involved in the crash is referred to as a unit, so there is a copy of this page for every unit. Not all the injuries to the parties may be known at the time of the report; some may need additional tests to determine, so the report typically contains the most severe injury to each driver.

Now Is the Time to Start Preparing Your Claim 

If you have suffered a car accident, or if one of your relatives died in a car accident, you might need to file a claim for damages. Since Indiana is not a “no-fault” auto insurance state, it all depends on whether the accident was someone else’s fault. You need to know whether you have a claim, and if so, how much it is worth.

Call Stracci Law Group for assistance and advice at 219-525-1000, or simply contact us online. We serve clients in Crown Point [46307, 46308], Hammond [46320, 46323], Merrillville [46410, 46411], and everywhere else in Northwest Indiana.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a police report for a car accident?

It’s always a good idea to get a police report after a car accident. The police can record witness statements, write about the conditions at the time of the crash, and provide other documentation about the details of your accident that could prove helpful if you file a claim.

Is a police report necessary even if no one was hurt?

Even if you think the accident was minor and there were no injuries, it’s still a good idea to file a police report. It provides insurance companies with all the necessary information they need to process your claim, and it can help you if they decide to fight your claim or reduce it.

How can I obtain an Indiana police report online?

Indiana makes it simple to get a copy of the report online. To obtain a certified copy of your police reports, go to the BuyCrash site, sign up for a membership, and fill out the form to request a copy of your report.

Are car accident police reports public records in Indiana?

Some Indiana jurisdictions make police reports public, where anyone who knows the date and the location can access the report. Other jurisdictions limit access to involved parties and their insurance companies or representatives of the drivers, like their car wreck attorneys.

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