“Do I need a police report to file a claim?”

This is a very common question after a car accident anywhere in the US. The answer, however, may be less straightforward. We must consider, for example, what type of claim you’re making, and whether you need a report by law.

So, can you claim for a car accident without a police report? Let’s take a look.

What Is a Police Report?

First, let’s clarify what a police report is.

A police report is a record of your car accident. When you call the police after a crash, a police officer attends the scene and completes the report.

The report is a legal record. It must be accurate, because if there are mistakes, then it could damage your claim. Equally, it can strengthen your claim if there’s mention of:

  • Your injuries
  • Property damage
  • Citations at the scene of the accident e.g. if the officer issued the other driver with a DUI

Police reports are compelling evidence. They help insurance companies – and personal injury lawyers – settle claims. However, they’re not above challenge. You may need other supporting evidence to prove your case.

Contents of a Police Report

A police report always contains the same type of details. This is true no matter where you are in the US. Police reports include information such as:

  • Accident date, time, and location
  • Make, color, and model of vehicle(s) involved
  • Driver(s) personal details
  • Driver(s) insurance information
  • Officer’s narrative of what happened
  • Diagram of the accident scene
  • Witness details (if applicable)
  • Personal injuries and property damage
  • Citations (ex: running a stop sign or red light)
  • Road conditions that contributed to the crash e.g. poor visibility, ice, spillages

What Is a Car Accident Claim?

A car accident claim is a type of civil claim you can make following a car crash. It provides compensation for losses sustained due to the accident.

There are, roughly, two types of car crash claims: insurance claims and personal injury claims.

Car Insurance Claim

A car insurance claim is a claim you file with an insurance company after a car accident. The insurance company will pay out on covered losses, such as property damage and personal injuries.

When you file a car insurance claim, the policy may not always cover the full value of your losses. If, for example, there are significant injuries, you might also make a personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury claims are claims for bodily injuries, and emotional harm, after an accident. They’re a type of civil negligence claim. Meaning, you can file a claim if another person’s negligence caused your injuries.

Most car accident attorneys offer a first free consultation so you can learn if you have a case.

Car accident in street with two black vehicles

Can I File an Insurance Claim Without a Police Report?

Yes. However, you could face some difficulties.

  • Even if you don’t have a report to send immediately, insurers often expect to see a police report. This is especially true if there’s significant property damage.
  • You may be legally required to report a crash e.g. if there are any injuries. If you don’t report the accident, it could be considered a hit-and-run. This can have legal consequences beyond losing out on an insurance claim!
  • Police reports help to confirm what happened. They allow insurance companies to settle claims more efficiently. Without such a record, it could be harder to prove your case.

Can I File a Claim Without a Police Report for Personal Injuries?

Again, the answer is technically yes. There are caveats, though.

  • Without a police report, it may be harder to prove what injuries you had at the scene. And if you delay seeking treatment, the other driver(s) could argue that they didn’t cause the injuries.
  • In some states, whether or not you’re to blame for a crash affects your settlement. Without an incident report, it’s harder to prove fault.
  • Claims involving fatalities, or serious injuries, are complex. Police reports can help progress matters.

The simple answer? Your claim may progress quicker with a police report available.

Remember, if you don’t have your report immediately, you can call an attorney for a case evaluation. And they can get started on your claim without a report to hand.

Where Do I Get a Police Report?

You have a few ways to get a copy of your car accident report.

  • If you have a car accident lawyer, they can get a copy on your behalf. However, if you don’t already have an attorney, this just means you’ll wait longer to get your report.
  • You can approach your local police department for a copy. Depending on how busy they are, you could wait for your report. You might also struggle to find the right department to contact.
  • The quickest option is to complete our short form and let us retrieve the location of your report. We will explain exactly how to access your report so you can take control of the situation.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims

Whether you have a police report or not, there’s one thing to remember. There are time limits for filing certain types of car accident claims.

Each state has different time limits. They come from laws known as “statutes of limitations”. For example, in CA, you only have two years from the crash date to file a personal injury claim. However, if you’re in a crash with someone driving a government vehicle, you only have six months from the crash date to claim.

This is another reason why having your accident report is helpful. It’s proof of the date when the accident occurred.

Let Us Help You Get a Copy of Your Police Report

Do you need a police report to file a claim? As we can see, the simple answer is no. However, when you file a police report, it can certainly speed up the claims process. And it can help you prove your case – especially if you’re making a personal injury claim.

At Auto Accident Report, we can find your police report for you and explain precisely how to access it. Our friendly and helpful team has the experience to know where to look. You’ll receive the result straight in your inbox.

It’s easy to get started. Simply tell us about your accident and we’ll handle the rest. So, don’t delay. Find your accident report now!