Tips for Filing a Police Report After a Car Accident

Tips for Filing a Police Report After a Car Accident

Between approximately 250,000 and 300,000 traffic crashes happen yearly in Ohio, some resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities. The law does not require accident reports to be completed in every one of these cases, but there may be reasons why you would want to file a police report after an accident, even when not legally required.

If you file a police report, you will want to be mindful of what information you include and how it is presented. Knowing when to file a police report and how to do so correctly is essential for Ohio drivers.

When Accident Reports Are Required

In most cases, you report an accident in the Buckeye State by calling local law enforcement and asking for an officer to respond. The law requires you to do this in certain circumstances, namely if:

  • Someone is hurt badly enough that they clearly need medical attention
  • Any person dies at the scene of the crash
  • It appears that property damage in excess of $1,000 has occurred

In addition, some local jurisdictions may have local ordinances that require you to report an accident. This report is required even if state law does not require it. Finally, you must file a report with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles if you have an accident with an uninsured motorist.

When police respond to the crash scene, they will take down pertinent information about the location of the crash, the parties involved, and how the crash occurred. They will then compile this information into a report, a copy of which can be made available to you.

When you have to report an accident to the BMV, the BMV can provide you with the requisite form to complete and submit. This must be done within 6 months of the accident with the uninsured motorist.

Filing an Accident Report When It Is Not Required

The law does not require you to file a report if your car accident does not fit into one of these categories. However, there may still be benefits to doing so. An accident report can serve to document the facts of your crash so that you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit later.

Similarly, the details of an accident report can help you defend yourself if an injury claim or case is filed against you after an accident.

Some cities will not dispatch a police officer to the scene of a crash that does not have to be legally reported. In this case, you will need to ask the appropriate police department or sheriff’s office for a copy of the accident report form that the agency uses. You would then complete the form and return it to that agency.

Five Tips for Completing Accident Report Forms

Whether you are required to report an accident or simply choose to do so, there are some general guidelines you should follow when completing and submitting an accident report. These tips include the following:

1. Complete Your Report as Soon as Possible After the Accident

The details of your accident will be the most clear immediately after the accident occurred. The longer you wait to complete a report or talk to law enforcement about your accident, the more likely it is that you will forget important details.

Because your memory is likely to be strongest near the time the accident occurred, a description of the accident made close in time to the event will likely be seen as more credible by a judge or jury as well.

2. Stick to the Facts

In completing the accident report, include the requested and relevant facts, but avoid including information that is not required, as it may affect an insurance claim or accident case you might file later.

For example, you will want to leave conclusory statements out of the report. Avoid saying that you were at fault, and make sure not to accuse others of being at fault. Fault can be determined between the insurers, your car accident lawyer, other attorneys involved, and the court, if necessary. Let the facts speak for themselves.

Having a car accident lawyer help you complete a car accident report can be very helpful. An attorney’s assistance can help ensure the right details are included, and any extra details are kept out.

3. Avoid Providing Details You Are Unsure Of

It’s best not to report a fact if you do not remember its specific details. For instance, if you do not remember a driver’s name, insurance information, or license plate, simply indicate you do not remember, or leave that question blank.

You may not intend to provide false or misleading information, but reporting information that later turns out to be false can cast doubt on the accuracy of the remainder of your report and could lead to legal liability in certain circumstances.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember insurance policy numbers and license plate numbers that are not your own. To combat this, consider taking photographs of the other person’s driver’s license, insurance documentation, and registration. You may also wish to photograph the street names and details about the accident you might forget.

4. Obtain a Copy of Your Report

If you file an accident report, you should request a copy for your records. Keep this report in a safe place so that you can provide it to your insurance company. If you are filing a lawsuit or an insurance claim, your car accident lawyer will also want a copy of your accident report.

5. Correct Any Errors You See

When you get a copy of your accident report, carefully review it for inaccuracies and mistakes. If you find errors, report them as soon as possible to the law enforcement agency, and ask that the report be amended.

Make sure to provide evidence showing that those details are inaccurate, if you can, to support your request.

If the officer does not agree to change the report, write out on a separate sheet of paper the errors you notice in the report. Keep this document with your copy of the accident report so that it will be available to whomever you give the report to.

Consult a Seasoned Columbus Car Accident Lawyer

If you were hurt in a car accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your injuries. The experienced team at Schiff & Associates can protect your rights and help you with all aspects of your case, from investigating your crash to settling your claim. We can also handle filing your police report or reviewing an existing report.

To learn more about the difference we can make for you and your family, contact us to schedule your consultation today.