Do I Need to File a Police Report for a Car Accident?


A car crash is always an unwelcome surprise, but they’re more common than you might think. According to statistics, there are 6 million auto collisions every year in the United States. In the event of an accident, you already have to deal with property damage and insurance issues, but what about filing a police report?

If you or the other driver is injured, seek medical attention before doing anything else. If, on the other hand, the crash was minor and no injuries occurred, you might be tempted to skip reporting the accident to law enforcement. Plenty of drivers assume that swapping insurance information is enough if no one was hurt. However, attorneys recommend that you file a report, even when it isn’t legally required. If you were the driver at fault, skipping this step could end up costing you.

When are You Required to File an Accident Report?

Arizona law states that you must report an accident to the relevant authorities if the crash caused death or bodily injury. Police in Arizona are required to complete a report of the crash within 24 hours of the investigation if the accident caused injuries, death, or over $2,000 worth of damage to the drivers or vehicles involved.

Why File a Police Report?

Why should you bother to file a report when you’re in an accident that doesn’t cause injuries or significant property damage? Having law enforcement record the details of the situation will protect you in case the other driver tries to misrepresent what happened. The police report from your accident will count as supporting evidence for your claim, which is especially important when you weren’t at fault. If you don’t file a police report, the insurance agency could argue that you didn’t call for help, so the crash must not have been very serious.

With this additional information, you improve your chances of receiving compensation after getting into an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Even if the collision was your fault, the information in the police report will help during the insurance process. The report will include details about the parties involved, their insurance policies, and facts about the accident. If you don’t file a police report, you might not be able to prove the crash occurred or identify the other party involved in the collision.

Steps for Filing a Police Report

The best method for filing will depend on the specific county you’re in, but common outlets include highway patrol, the local sheriff, or the closest police station. You might also be able to find an online reporting tool. However, if you’re having trouble accessing any of these options, call 911 and they will help you figure out what to do. Emergency services and police will arrive at the scene. Then, the officers will investigate the crash to decide who was involved, how it happened, and which driver was at fault.

Most auto accident police reports will include:

  • Auto insurance policy details for each car involved
  • Names and contact information for each driver
  • Basic description of the accident
  • Drivers’ license numbers of each driver
  • Copies of citations issued at the scene
  • Time, date, and location of the crash
  • Name and contact info of witnesses
  • Name of the responding officer
  • Other relevant details about the accident

Do I Need to File a Police Report Right Away?

It’s best to report a car accident immediately and remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If the accident caused injuries or death, you’re legally required to stop, remain at the scene, and provide “reasonable assistance” to the other driver if necessary. When the police arrive, be as accurate as you can about the details of the situation. In some cases, you’ll receive a copy of the police report before the officer leaves the scene of the accident. If you don’t, ask the officer for their name and the report number.

If you need a copy of the report, you should be able to get it within days of your accident (for a small fee). You may call the police department or sheriff’s office that responded to your crash or ask your attorney to help you obtain the report.

Receiving Compensation After an Accident

After a car crash, you’ll have a lot to think about, but always put your physical health first. If needed, seek medical care immediately and get the treatment you need for your injuries. While you’re recovering (physically and psychologically), your lawyer can start working to help you get compensation from the driver who was at fault. This can help you cover medical costs, wages lost from missing work, physical disfigurement, emotional distress, and more. Your attorney will use the information in the police report along with additional evidence to build you a strong case.

Get an Experienced Lawyer on Your Side

Experiencing a car crash can be a traumatic event, even if no one was hurt. Fortunately, most auto accidents don’t cause death or injury, but you can still expect to deal with expensive property damage in most cases. At JacksonWhite, we understand the inconvenience you’ll have to deal with following an accident. By enlisting our personal injury legal team, you’ll reduce this burden by having qualified support on your side.

You may be able to receive financial compensation for auto repairs, lost wages, scars, future medical bills, car rental costs, and more. Coming to an agreement on a specific amount for damages is complicated and intimidating for many people. So, give us a call today to find out how we can assist you during this process.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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