Car accidents can happen very quickly and unexpectedly. In the immediate aftermath, it can be difficult to sort out exactly what happened, especially if there are injuries that need medical attention. The details of the accident are necessary to determine who is at-fault, so it is important to capture as much information at the scene as possible. Accident victims should always obtain a copy of the police report from the accident and supplement it with as much information as possible.
How Can I Depict the Scene of the Accident?
There are many factors to consider when determining liability in a car accident and having a detailed report can be essential when dealing with insurance companies and pursuing legal action against the responsible driver. The report must also have the right details in order to be useful. An accident report should always include the basics, such as the date, time, and location of the accident. Other establishing facts can help to set the scene for the accident. Reports should also include weather conditions at the time of the accident, particularly any inclement weather that could have impacted visibility or made road surfaces slippery.
Unsafe roads can also lead to car accidents. If there were any road hazards, such as construction, pot holes, or other conditions that could have contributed to the accident, these should be recorded as well. The report should also indicate whether there were streetlights out in the area of the accident, which could have been a factor in the crash.
The accident report must include details of all drivers involved, including their names, addresses, contact information, and insurance. If there are other passengers in the vehicles, their names and contact information should be included, along with age. The report should also document the details of the vehicles, including the make, model, color, and plate number. Any noticeable defects on the vehicles, such as broken lights or windshield wipers, should be listed as well.
How Do I Document the Accident?
An accident report must have a thorough account of the crash, including who was driving, in what direction, and how fast the drivers were traveling at the time. It is important to note who had the right-of-way and any other driving behaviors that might have contributed to the accident. If any of the drivers were under the influence or driving while distracted, or if there were pedestrians in the road, this should be noted as well. The report should also note whether all the drivers and passengers involved were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Witness accounts can help establish the circumstances of the accident, which may seem different than a driver’s perspective. If there are witnesses on the scene, it is important to capture the details of what they saw and from what position. The report should include their names and contact information so that they can be reached if there are any follow-up questions.
Similarly, the scene of the accident should be documented with photos and videos, if possible. This should include documentation of the damage to both vehicles, glass or debris in the road, skid marks, and the surroundings of the accident location. Documentation of street signs can help establish the traffic pattern, speed limit, and other factors that determine fault in the accident. If there are any obvious injuries, such as cuts or fractures, they should be photographed as well.
What Will Police Do at the Accident Scene?
When an accident occurs, police should be called to the scene immediately along with emergency medical services. The police will document the accident and recreate the circumstances by taking measurements, observing angles of impact, inspecting damage to the vehicles, and taking statements from witnesses and those involved. The officer will also take note of any injuries that are identified on the scene. Even if no injuries are apparent at first, accident victims should not say they are not injured. Some common car accident injuries may not appear until later.
The police report will contain the facts of the crash, but it may also contain the officer’s opinion as to what happened. The police may make a determination of fault at the scene based on their findings, but this may differ from the opinions of the insurance companies involved. A judge presiding over any court cases related to the accident may also have a different interpretation of liability than the investigating officer. Still, if the insurance company of the responsible driver tries to dispute liability, having the police report in hand may help combat this approach.
What Should I Ask the Police?
Accident victims should always get the name and business card of the officer recording the report so that they can follow-up and obtain a copy as soon as it is available, which may take a couple of weeks. The investigating officer should also provide a receipt that lists the identification number of the police report, which can make it easier to track in the system. If the receipt does not have an identification number, the time, date, and location of the accident should suffice. Accident victims can contact the traffic division of their municipal police department to get a copy of the report on their own.
What is Not Included in the Report?
While the police report can be helpful, it may not include everything. Accident victims can compile their own report with information they remember from the accident, which they might need to share with their insurance companies or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If possible, car accident victims should talk to the other drivers and witnesses and get their contact information. The details should be as factual as possible; the report should truthfully acknowledge gaps in the victim’s memory and avoid speculation. If an injury becomes apparent after the accident, the victim should thoroughly document any diagnosis they receive, along with the necessary treatment.
Can I Pursue Legal Action Against the Other Driver?
Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians may file lawsuits against responsible drivers. Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence rule, which means that a plaintiff can recover compensation as long as they are less negligent than the defendant. Whether a police report will be admissible in court depends on the type of suit and the contents of the report. Typically, reports are admissible in small claims court. A trial in superior or circuit court may have different standards. For these reasons, it is important to hire a car accident lawyer after an accident to help gather evidence and determine if the police report is sufficient.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims Injured in All Types of Car Accidents
If you were in a car accident and need legal guidance, contact one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will be with you every step of the way to build the best case possible. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.