Last updated on Dec 27, 2020
The police report for your accident is an important document. It can, and will, play a major part in your claims process, and there are a number of ways that your police report can help protect your interests in regards to any damage your vehicle sustained or any injuries you might have suffered.
Car accidents are notoriously traumatic events, and you’re likely not going to be thinking straight in the immediate wake of one. Having a police officer on the scene to record everything they see, hear, and learn about the accident helps minimize important facts that might otherwise be overlooked because you’re so shaken up — or if you’re too injured to be able to deal with anything else.
Whenever there’s a car accident in Texas where there’s more than $1000 in damages or someone suffered an injury, it’s standard operating procedure for police responding to the scene of an accident to fill out a full crash report. Under state law, this report needs to be filed within 10 days.
There are a number of things that go into your standard police report. Different jurisdictions might have different preferences — an Austin police accident report might have a format that has little in common with a Houston police accident report, for example. However, regardless of where your accident occurs, it’s likely to have the following information:
Once the officer records all this information, he or she will then write a full report and file it with their department. You’re entitled to a copy of this report, which is typically made available to you one or two days after the official report is filed.
One of the best steps to take is to request the responding officer’s contact information to follow up in the days after the accident. Most police officers can offer you a card with their name and phone number on it, which can make calling their department to request a copy of your report much easier. This also helps in case the officer’s handwriting is hard to decipher, as you can get clarification more easily once you receive the report.
Nine times out of ten, your insurance provider is going to ask you to provide them with a copy of your police report if you make a car insurance claim related to the accident. The reason for this is clear: a police report is considered an official document, and insurers can rely on the information these reports contain to make determinations regarding things like how quickly they can process your claim and provide you any compensation you’re owed.
This makes it important to ensure that your police report is as complete and accurate as possible. Missing or incorrect information can slow the claims process to a crawl as you seek out the officer that wrote the original report and ask them to correct or amend their report. While you should always document the accident yourself to supplement the police report, this report will always carry a large amount of weight, so always look over your report for accuracy before sending it to the insurance company.
In the wake of a car crash where someone was injured or where your car was damaged, you can rely on the information in a police report to support your car insurance claim. However, the information in that claim has to be accurate for the best results. Insurers can use police reports to speed up claims processing, which means that an accurate police report submitted to your insurer in a timely manner can help you receive any compensation you’re entitled to after being involved in an accident.