Following a car crash, it is advised to call the police and wait for their arrival to obtain a police report. But what role do police reports play in auto accident cases in Florida?
What is a Police Report?
After you call 911 and report your crash in Lakeland or other parts of Polk County, the arriving police officer will talk to the parties involved in the accident, gather information from eyewitnesses, and review other types of evidence to determine how the crash happened.
After this procedure, the police officer will write a police report that contains:
- The date and time of the incident
- The location and weather conditions
- The identifying information for parties involved in the crash
- The positioning of the vehicles involved, the presence of debris and other hazards, as well as the road conditions, among other details
- Contact information for all parties involved
- Contact information for witnesses
- Whether any party sought medical attention
- Whether drunk driving or other illegal behaviors or violations contributed to the crash
- What injuries each party sustained, in any
Also, the police report may contain the officer’s opinion regarding fault or factors that could have contributed to the collision. For example, the officer can mention that he believes that distracted driving may have been a factor.
But how important is the police report in the outcome of your case? Following the crash, your Lakeland auto accident attorney will obtain a copy of the police report. But how can the report affect your personal injury case?
Can a Police Report Be Used as Evidence in Your Case?
A police report can serve as a critical piece of evidence in your car accident case for three reasons:
- The report contains lots of important information about the crash;
- The report is issued by a law enforcement officer – and is not an opinion of either party involved in the accident – which makes the report more credible; and
- The report may be used as evidence to prove the other party’s fault (often, police reports state that either party was at fault).
While having a police report can strengthen your personal injury case, insurance companies are unlikely to rely solely on the information contained in the report to make a settlement offer. In fact, it is not uncommon for insurers to disagree with the officer’s opinion and deny or undervalue a claim;
That is why having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is important to conduct a thorough and independent investigation, gather sufficient evidence proving or disproving the findings in the police report, and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
A skilled attorney can help you challenge the police report if it says that you were partially or fully at fault for the accident. You can hold the other party liable for the crash despite what the police report says.
But what about police reports that do not identify the at-fault party? Can they still be used as evidence to prove your case? Yes, absolutely. A police report will serve as a key piece of evidence regardless of whether it identifies the liable party. It is advised to consult with a knowledgeable Lakeland car accident attorney to establish fault in your particular case. Contact The Turnbull Firm to schedule a consultation. Call at 863-324-3500 for a case review.