What Is on a Police Report for a Car Accident?

What Is on a Police Report for a Car Accident?

When you’re in a car accident, one of the most crucial pieces of information you’ll need is the police report. 

This report contains all details about the accident, including when and where it occurred, who was involved, and whether anyone was injured. It also includes other essential details such as vehicle movements, points of impact, weather and road conditions, and any contributing factors like speeding. With all this information, the police report is an invaluable resource for insurance and legal purposes.

If you’re suffering from the severe aftermath of the accident and need guidance regarding the claims process and police report, don’t hesitate to get help from a Uptown Injury Law, PLLC car accident lawyer. We can help you obtain a police report and all related evidence for your case. Contact us online or call toll-free at 917-540-8728 for a free case review.

What Is an Official Police Report?

An official police report is a document that contains observations and notes made by law enforcement officers when they respond to incidents such as car thefts, crimes, and accidents. It includes details of the causes and outcomes of the incident and is used by police and the insurance company for official purposes.

While a “police report” might sound complex, it’s usually a piece of paper with an administrative form similar to what you fill out at the DMV

Law enforcement officers complete various fields based on your incident’s details. You might spot your local police department’s seal and their address and phone number on the official police report.

Therefore, it’s law enforcement’s way of documenting the event in an official format, ensuring a clear record of what occurred.

What Can You Find in a Police Report?

A police report is more than just a collection of facts. It’s an official document that contains the investigation details by responding police officers about a car crash.

But what’s inside that report that makes it so vital? Police accident reports usually contain essential information, such as:

  1. Setting the Scene: The report begins with the incident’s when and where it happened, including the date, time, and place. These crucial details set the stage for understanding the context.
  2. Environmental Context: A description of road conditions, lighting, and weather on the day of the incident provides insight into the environment in which the accident occurred.
  3. Vehicle Descriptions: Vital specifics about the vehicles involved, including their make, model, year, license plate numbers, and registration status.
  4. Incident Details: The report describes the incident, including the location and the extent of the damage. It also investigates whether factors such as speeding, intoxication, or negligence were involved.
  5. Visual Aid: A diagram of the accident scene highlights crucial elements such as road signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, and merge lanes, adding visual clarity.
  6. Injured Parties: The names, information, and extent of injuries of all those harmed are documented, along with the need for medical care.
  7. Property Damage: Notes on property damage resulting from the incident give a comprehensive view of what happened at the accident scene.
  8. Officer Details: The name, agency, incident report number, and badge number of the responding officer.

After an auto accident, sharing important information with the responding police officer is crucial. Even small details about the other driver’s actions or the accident’s situation can significantly impact your insurance claim or court case. Your input can be the key to a clearer understanding of what happened.

Is Police Report Fact-Based or Opinionated?

For car accidents, police reports are fact-based and objective. The police officers who reach the accident scene are responsible for gathering as much information as possible. They must document all the details in the report. 

This includes information about the vehicles involved, the location and time of the accident, and the weather conditions at the scene. These details are considered facts.

Conversely, it is essential to note that the determination of fault depends on the opinion of the police officer. Despite this, the officer’s statement still holds importance, but insurance companies will also collect relevant information separately to form their own opinions and conclusions regarding who is at fault.

car accident police report

Does Car Insurance Require a Police Report in an Accident?

Filing an insurance claim without a police accident report is possible. However, you may need to submit an accident report when seeking compensation for significant damage or in the event of a crime such as car theft or hit and run. 

Remember that not having a report can make it more difficult for your insurance company to determine who was at fault and the extent of the damage caused during the accident. 

This can result in a longer payout process or a reduced payout amount. In fact, your car insurance company usually requires a police report as evidence to support your claim. The evidence and documentation for the claims process includes the following:

  • Car Accident Police Report: The official police report from the scene plays a pivotal role. It’s like the backbone of the case, offering an authoritative account of what happened.
  • Witness Accounts: Witness statements from those who saw the accident happen bring an additional layer of insight. These firsthand observations hold considerable weight.
  • Visuals Speak: Photos or videos taken at the scene provide a visual narrative. They offer a clear look into the circumstances surrounding the accident.
  • Driver Statements: The drivers involved in a car accident also play a role in narrating their version of events. These statements contribute to the overall picture.

Car insurance companies actively evaluate the evidence, especially police reports. They scrutinize the situation, assess adherence to traffic rules, and consider any violations during the accident.

How Do You Obtain a Copy of the Police Report?

The process for obtaining a police report might have slight variations based on the particular police department. The general procedure is as follows:

Step 1: Go to the Police Report Database: Start by heading to the incident report database of the responding law enforcement agency. You can quickly locate it through a quick online search using keywords like” Police Reports (City/County) Police Department.”

Step 2: Locate Your Accident Report: Locate your crash or incident report within the database. You can do this by using details like your VIN, case number, driver’s license number, or the names of the parties involved in the incident.

Step 3: Pay the Administrative Fee: Once you’ve pinpointed your police report, you should pay a small administrative fee (often less than $10) to access and download it.

Step 4: Download the Report: Download and save the report on your computer. Printing a couple of copies to keep in your records is recommended. Don’t forget to include a copy of the report when you’re filing an insurance claim.

It’s worth noting that unlike court records or arrest reports, police reports are not public records. So, have your driver’s license or another valid form of identification handy when you’re ready to request your incident’s police report.

Is it Possible to File a Police Report Online?

If you got into a minor car accident, you can report it online. Many police precincts now offer the convenience of filing a police report online for non-emergency situations. 

However, you can’t report all types of car accidents online. Therefore, if you are involved in an emergency or a severe accident with injuries, it is advisable to call 911.

In case of a traffic accident involving injury, wrongful death, or more than $1,000 of property damage, you must file a crash report. For uninsured drivers, the threshold is $500.

To file a police report online for a car crash in New York City, visit the official New York Police Department (NYPD) website and navigate to the online reporting section. Ensure to check with the concerned department to understand their specific procedures for online reporting of car accidents, as policies can vary between jurisdictions.

When filing a police report online, provide detailed and accurate information about the incident, including the date, time, location, and a comprehensive description. Some departments may also require you to upload supporting documents or evidence.

Can You Present the Police Report as Evidence in Court?

For car accident lawsuits, the requirement of police reports in court as evidence hinges on specific circumstances and jurisdiction.

In New York City, you can use a police report as evidence in small claims courts. However, if your case goes to trial in the state’s court of general jurisdiction or supreme court, the rules of evidence apply. These rules may exclude “hearsay” evidence, such as statements collected outside the courtroom.

In addition, the rules regarding hearsay evidence can differ across jurisdictions. Some places may have exceptions that permit the use of all or certain sections of a police report. Occasionally, the court may consider claims as “public records” or “business records” and fully accept them.

If you are unsure whether r a car accident police report can be used as evidence in your jurisdiction, it’s best to seek the help of a personal injury attorney who has experience in this area. They will be able to offer you accurate and specific guidance on the matter.

How to Prove Fault Without a Police Report?

If you find yourself in a situation where a police report is unavailable, determining fault in an accident claim becomes crucial. Insurance companies will gather information and evidence from involved parties and potential witnesses to determine fault. 

To safeguard your claim, proactively collecting evidence after an accident is essential. This includes taking photos or videos, obtaining copies or images of identification and insurance documents, and securing contact details from other drivers and witnesses. These measures become crucial when police reports are not accessible.

In certain situations, fault is presumed based on the nature of the accident. For instance:

  1. Rear-end accidents: Typically attributed to the driver colliding with another vehicle’s rear.
  2. Left-turn collisions: Often considered the responsibility of the driver making the left turn.

If you’re uncertain about fault, refer to your state’s “Rules of the Road.” You can find this information on the local DMV’s website, in the state’s highway manual, or within the Motor Vehicle Code specific to your state. 

Need Assistance with Your Car Accident Claim? Contact Uptown Injury!

At Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, we understand the challenges you’re up against after a car accident. Our team of skilled car accident lawyers is dedicated to offering personalized support, clear communication, and unwavering advocacy to help you confidently navigate the legal journey.

With over 15 years of experience handling car accident claims and securing over 100 million dollars in settlements for our clients, you can trust us to fight for your rights. Call us today at 917-540-8728 to arrange your complimentary case evaluation. Let us win your cause for justice and rightful compensation. Furthermore, our “No Fee Unless You Win” policy ensures you can pursue your car accident claim without financial concerns. Your well-being and rights matter. Contact us now!


Who Should I Contact to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident?

You should contact your local police department or law enforcement officer. A police report is vital in determining fault and can be used as evidence in court. If you’re having trouble getting a police report, seek the help of a lawyer who specializes in car accidents and offers a free consultation.

Can a Police Report Be Filed for Truck Accidents?

Yes, a police report is filed for truck accidents like any other motor vehicle accident. It’s essential to contact your local police department and file a report as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not there were injuries. Doing so can provide crucial information for insurance adjusters, car accident lawyers, and any potential car accident settlements.

How Can a Lawyer Help Secure a Settlement in a Car Accident Case?

A car accident lawyer can assist in handling insurance information, negotiating with the insurance adjuster, determining fault for the auto accident, and gathering evidence to support the case. They can also represent you in court and help you obtain a fair settlement for accident-related losses.

Is Filing an Accident Report Required in New York?

Yes. New York has strict laws in reporting your accident. You must report it within ten days if property damage exceeds $1,000 due to an accident. Failure to report your accident in NY can lead to driver’s license suspension.

What if I Don’t Call the Police After an Accident?

If you have been involved in a car accident, you must call the police. They will come, assess the situation, and create a report as evidence if necessary. However, if, for some reason, the police do not respond to your call, you should still file your own report to the DMV within ten days to comply with regulations or go to the nearest police station to file a report. 

Is a Police Report Necessary for Insurance Claims?

Yes, a police report significantly enhances your insurance claim’s credibility. It provides an official accident account, helping insurance adjusters assess fault and compensation. While not always mandatory, a police report often streamlines the claims process.

Can I Amend a Police Report If It Contains Errors?

Yes, you can. Contact the local law enforcement office that filed the report and request corrections. This could involve factual errors, wrong details, or missed information. Accurate documentation ensures a clear record for insurance and legal purposes.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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