Proving Fault: Car Accidents and Police Reports
Following an auto collision, it may be difficult to know what you should do next. After seeking medical attention, speaking with your insurance provider, and recuperating, you then have to decide if it’s worthwhile to seek legal action. The Daytona Beach, FL auto accident attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau are here to help.
When helping clients with lawsuits and settlements for car accidents, we can look over numerous documents and evidence in building a case. The police report from your collision can play an important role in establishing who was at fault in a crash. Let’s explain.
What Is a Police Report?
A police report is a record of an incident that occurred that is filled out by a responding police officer. This police report contains information on what happened as well as the officer’s opinion of what occurred.
Information in a Police Report
Some information that is commonly found in a police report for an auto collision includes:
- Date and time of the collision
- Location of the collision
- Make and model of the vehicles involved
- License plate numbers
- Vehicle occupant names, contact info, and insurance details
- Information on witnesses of the crash
- Statements from motorists and witnesses
- Descriptions of vehicle damage
- Diagram of the collision
- Notes on any laws violated/tickets issued
- Notes on road and weather conditions
- Officer's assessment of the collision
A Mix of Facts and Opinion
As you may have noticed, there is a mixture of fact and opinion contained in a police report. The objective matters recorded are indisputable (if recorded accurately). The officer’s assessment of what happened, however, may be up for debate depending on the nature of the crash. In fact, insurance companies may have a completely different assessment of what happened and why.
Can the Police Report Prove Fault?
A police report alone will not necessarily prove fault. Given that the officer’s assessment is subjective and opinions may vary, it is an important record of what happened but not a definitive statement of what occurred.
With this in mind, building a case will involve looking at the details in the police report as well as checking with witnesses and analyzing any evidence that is available.
How to Get a Copy of the Police Report
There are two ways that a copy of a police report can be obtained:
- Obtaining a Free Copy - If your own insurance company requested a copy of the police report to look over, you can request a copy of the police report at no charge through the insurance company’s claims representative.
- Paying for a Copy - After responding to the collision, the responding officer will provide you with a receipt for your incident. This receipt will allow you to obtain the police report from the specified law enforcement office. You will need to pay an administrative fee.
Working with Your Lawyer
Using the police report and available evidence, your lawyer will build a strong case proving that the other party was at fault. If there were any tickets of citations issued after the collision, these can be helpful in demonstrating negligence. We will also advise you on whether you should accept a legal settlement or proceed to trial. Our goal is helping you make smart legal choices at every stage of your case.
Speak with the Attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau
For more information about your legal options following a motor vehicle collision, be sure to contact our team of auto accident lawyers. The attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau are here to help. You can reach our Daytona Beach law office by phone at (866) 610-0653, and our Palm Coast law office at (386) 439-7760.