Proving Fault: Car Accidents and Police Reports
According to car insurance industry estimates, the average driver will be involved in three to four accidents throughout his or her lifetime. The majority of car accidents cause some extent of property damage and personal injury.
When a car accident occurs, it is important to determine who is considered at fault for the collision. The party that is assigned liability can be held financially responsible for all accident damages, including medical expenses for accident injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When an insurance agent or car accident attorney is seeking to prove liability for a collision, they examine many factors, including witness testimony and evidence from the scene of the accident. Another important piece of evidence is the police report from the accident.
When proving fault in a car accident, police reports often help Salt Lake City, UT attorney Lynn Harris strengthen the case so that our clients can get the financial compensation they are owed for their losses.
What Is in a Police Report?
A police report is a summation of findings and observations, written by the officer who responds to the scene of a car accident. A police report contains a number of facts related to the accident, as well as the officer’s personal opinions regarding the accident.
The exact content of each police report will vary based on the details of the accident, but most include:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- Weather and road conditions at the scene of the accident
- Names, addresses, phone numbers, license information, and insurance information for all involved parties
- Witness information
- Summary of statements from involved parties and any accident witnesses
- Summary of accident damage
- Diagram of the accident
- Information regarding any citations issued
- Opinion regarding the cause of the collision or accident liability
Obtaining a Police Report
After an officer responds to the scene of an accident, the involved parties should receive some type of receipt that contains the police report number.
Accident victims can obtain a copy of the police report by requesting it from the local police department. It often takes a few weeks for the police report to be completed and available for copies. There may also be a small fee for obtaining the copy of the police report.
To avoid this fee, individuals can ask their insurance company to collect the police report and provide them with a copy.
Is Liability in a Police Report Final?
The findings of a police officer will not be changed unless one of the involved parties disputes the findings and requests an amendment, which can be a lengthy process and is not guaranteed to change anything.
However, the opinions stated in a police report do not always coincide with those of the insurance company. Though most will base liability findings on information in the police report, including the opinions of the officer, insurance companies conduct their own investigations and often come up with their own findings.
Similarly, a police report is just one piece of evidence that an attorney will consider when trying to determine fault in a car accident.
Get in Touch
If you have been involved in a car accident and are interested in seeking financial compensation for your losses, attorney Lynn Harris is here to help. Contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your legal options. You can call (801) 521-3200 or (801) 375-9801 to set up a time for us to review your case.