The Importance of Police Reports After a Car Accident

One of the many steps you should take after a car accident in Arizona is to call the local police to report the collision. Reporting your car accident to law enforcement can lead to an official police report – a document that serves as an important piece of evidence during most car accident claims. Even if the circumstances of your car accident do not make police reporting a requirement, filing a report can strengthen your injury claim.

When Must You Report a Car Accident in Arizona?

All states have laws requiring motor vehicle drivers to report certain car accidents to local law enforcement and/or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you fail to report a car accident that requires reporting, you could face a criminal charge for a hit-and-run. In Arizona, it is mandatory to report any vehicle collision that results in:

  • Physical injuries to anyone, including people both inside and outside of the vehicle(s)
  • Fatalities (or anyone who is bleeding or unconscious)
  • Property damage of over $1,000

You should also report a car accident to the police if it involves an apparent legal violation, such as driving under the influence or an uninsured driver. In turn, the responding law enforcement officer must file a written police report to the DMV if it involves injuries, deaths, $1,000 or more in property damage, or the issuance of a citation, usually within 24 hours.

Why Should You File a Police Report After an Accident?

A car insurance company is not on your side during an injury claim. The insurance company will search for ways to reduce or reject your payout. With this in mind, you should do everything you can to build a strong claim to financial damages from the very beginning of your car accident case – including requesting a police report, even for a minor accident.

The police report is a key type of evidence during a car accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit in Arizona. The police report can contain critical information and evidence that documents the crash and your condition, making it easier to seek fair financial compensation for your losses. For this reason, car accident attorneys generally recommend that all crash victims report collisions to the police, whether the accident is major or minor.

When you call your insurance company or the carrier of the other driver to file your initial claim, the insurance representative will ask for your police report number. If you do not have this information because you didn’t obtain a police report, the insurance company can use this against you. Although you may still be eligible for financial compensation, not having a police report can make it harder to obtain fair and full results.

What Information Is Included in a Police Report?

A police report is so vital to a car accident lawsuit in Arizona because it provides an unbiased third-party report of the key details of the collision. The law enforcement officer will record the basic facts and information about the car accident, which can be essential for reconstructing the crash later. The typical police report in Arizona includes the following information:

  • The location of the accident, including landmarks
  • The exact time and date
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Identifying information from both drivers
  • A description of any vehicle damage
  • A description of any injuries sustained
  • A description and diagram of how the collision took place
  • Eyewitness information and statements
  • Any citations issued or violations of the law

The police report may also contain the police officer’s professional opinion on the cause of the crash. Although this opinion will not be viewed as a determination of fault, an insurance company can use it to form its decision. Having a police report can provide substantial and effective evidence in your favor during a car accident claim. Always call the police after any accident, and make sure you obtain a copy of the report.