After any car accident, even minor ones, you should always call the police. Police will often respond and come to the scene even if there are no serious injuries. If police do respond, they will ultimately file a report on what happened, called a police report or incident report. This report is an important piece of evidence in your case.
Am I required to have a police report to file an insurance claim?
It depends. The requirements vary based on your state and your insurance company. In Georgia, you are required to call the police for any accident where:
- Anyone is injured
- Anyone is killed
- There is property damage of more than $500
This means that you should have a police report for any accident where you intend to make a personal injury claim. The only exception is for small claims about car repairs expected to be under $500 (fender benders), but these are usually paid out of pocket, not by insurance.
Additionally, some insurance companies require a police report to process your claim at all. If this requirement is in your policy contract, then you cannot make a claim without one.
We recommend that you always call the police after any car accident, no matter how small. If you later notice pain or develop an injury, you’ll be glad you have the police report.
Does a police report count as evidence in my car accident case?
Yes and no. Police reports generally cannot be used in court, because they count as “hearsay”—statements made by people who did not actually witness the accident. But most car accident claims are settled without ever going to court, and a police report can still count as valuable evidence.
When you first file your claim, your lawyer will send a letter of complaint. This is a letter to the insurance company that outlines what happened, what damages you suffered, and how much money you are requesting. Your lawyer will use the police report to help shape the letter, and both sides will refer to the police report as a basic description of what happened. Any claims in the police report may also serve as leads in gathering more substantial evidence, like contacting eyewitnesses. Having a police report makes your claim stronger.
It can also help to fill out your own personal report on the accident. Georgia offers a form you can use for this report here.
How do I get the police report for my accident?
You can request it directly from the law enforcement agency that responded to your accident (typically the local police, local sheriff, or state troopers). Your lawyer can request this report for you if you prefer.
What if I didn’t call the police? Can I still file a claim?
If you didn’t call the police you should speak to a car accident lawyer about your case. You may still be able to file a claim, but it may be more difficult. A lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.