What are Police Reports?
One of the most common pieces of advice in any auto accident situation is to contact police and request that a police report be logged by authorities. There are obvious advantages to having a police report done. There are also some disadvantages that most of us don’t think about until we are wrapped up in a heated battle with a large insurance company. Generally police reports are not admissible in a civil injury lawsuit.
These reports contain multiple levels of hearsay. Not to mention, police document their own opinions of what caused a crash. These opinions are located in the “probably contributing circumstances” section of the accident report. All incident reports in Missouri and Illinois contain sections such as these. A reporting officer will discuss the accident with the parties and also any witnesses on scene. Then the officer will incorporate these statements into the narrative section of the report.
Police reports generally take 5-7 days to complete after a car accident. You have to understand that police departments are overworked and understaffed. Couple that with a voluminous amount of paperwork that each officer must complete each shift and you are better able to put this in perspective. A police report is reviewed by a superior officer and then either approved or sent back to the reporting officer for corrections.
How Important are they in Personal Injury Cases?
If you are unhappy with the findings in a police report, seldom do authorities agree to amend or supplement substantive findings in a police accident investigation report.
Insurance companies rely heavily on the opinions of the reporting officer on scene, even when this conflicts with other evidence gathered by the parties themselves. Insurance companies take the position that the parties are influenced by factors that may alter the truth of their statements in time…with exception to those statements they make to police at the accident scene.
When there is a fatal car accident, authorities may take investigations one step further and do an accident reconstruction investigation in which the major crash unit will do a complete analysis of the crash. Accident reconstruction investigations typically require 6-8 weeks of time to complete. Parties are encouraged to be patient during this time. It is usually worth the wait however, as these reconstruction reports provide invaluable evidence that your
car accident lawyer may use in representing the wrongful death claim filed by surviving family members.
What if I Don’t Have a Police Report?
Often, if an accident occurred on private property, like a home, or in a parking lot, police will not send an officer, unless there are severe injuries, or if someone is being aggressive. This could make the claim more difficult. watch the video below to see how to handle a car accident when there is no police report:
How can Attorneys Help?
To request a free copy of the police report in your case, contact the St. Louis car accident attorneys at Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys will investigate your claim, starting with the police report and our own independent investigation, which includes obtaining photographs of the scene and vehicles, and obtaining recorded statements of all persons of interest. Our lawyers can be reached at 314-444-4444