If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your initial reaction is probably shock. Even relatively minor accidents can be terrifying when they happen. It’s hard to keep your wits about you. Nonetheless, there is a best practice for dealing with a car accident directly after it happens.
Here, we’ll talk about the role of police reports, how to get one, and why they can’t always be relied upon to tell the entire story.
How to Get the Police Report for an Accident
Car accident reports may be held by Washington State Patrol. There, you would simply submit a records request for the traffic accident that you were involved with. Sometimes, your own insurance company will request a copy of the records.
For those who have suffered personal injuries and retained legal counsel, a personal injury lawyer can manage this aspect of the case for you.
Police Reports Don’t Always Tell the Full Story
In some cases, police reports don’t always tell the right story. For example, the report may say that an individual struck another vehicle. Meanwhile, the accident photos may show that the first individual had damage to the passenger-side door. Now unless the individual was driving sideways, there was no way that they could have hit the other vehicle.
When police come on the scene, their primary focus is to clear the accident from the road and allow the flow of traffic to resume. They may have injured drivers, injured pedestrians, serious property damage, and hazards to clean. They have to call for tow trucks, paramedics, and make sure that everyone is safe.
As an afterthought, they concern themselves with getting witness statements and interviewing those who were involved in the accident. Then they write up a report that, for good or ill, becomes the official document that describes the incident.
That doesn’t mean that it’s accurate, however.
If you feel like the traffic accident report isn’t accurately describing the situation, you can file a police report of your own. In addition, having an attorney who can argue your case is immensely valuable.
What to Do after an Accident Occurs
There are a number of steps that you can take to minimize the damage an inaccurate police report can do. This includes taking pictures of the scene of the accident, including:
- Damage to your car
- Damage to the other driver’s car
- Pictures of witnesses at the scene
- Images of the license plates around the scene
In addition, you also want to document any and all injuries that you or your passengers sustained. While some police reports are (more or less) accurate, many of them will leave out key details, twist information in such a way as to make fault ambiguous, or simply not tell the full story. It’s hard to blame the police officers for this because they have a number of urgent duties that they have to perform. Figuring out what happened is as far down the list as you can get.
If you’re the victim of another driver’s negligence, insurance companies can use this against you when it’s time to compensate you for your injuries. You need a skilled car accident attorney to help clarify the details. Kapuza Lighty PLLC of Yakima, Washington will advocate tirelessly in order to see that you are compensated fully for your injuries. Give us a call or contact us online and we can begin today.