How to File an Accident Report With the Police
Automobile and motorcycle accidents are stressful experiences. You may be overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, wondering how you’re going to get back on your feet. Filing a police report is an important first step to retrieving a fair settlement from the insurance company and filing a personal injury claim. Submitting a report is easy, but it requires several steps.
Why File a Police Report?
You may wonder why filing a report is even necessary, especially if you’ve already submitted a report to your insurance company. However, having a written record for the police is essential for a few reasons:
- Some injuries, like those caused by whiplash, may not become apparent until a few weeks after the accident.
- Despite your best documentation efforts, you may not notice the full extent of damage to your car until much later.
- The other party involved may attempt to allege false statements about the nature of the accident.
- The other driver may admit fault, but change his or her mind in the following days or weeks.
With a police report, you have a written record of the accident by an established authority. A police report also:
- Speeds up the process of receiving a claim from your insurance company
- Provides essential evidence to an attorney in the event of a court proceeding
What Should I Include on My Police Report?
When filing your report, provide as much information as possible. Include as many details as you can about the accident. Start with some basics:
- Personal information of all parties involved: names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers
- Vehicle information: makes, models, registrations, license plate numbers
- Insurance information, including carriers
- A detailed description of what happened and who was involved
- An account of damages to both vehicles, as well as a description of any public property damage, such as lampposts or medians
- Witnesses and their contact information, if applicable
- Details regarding your injuries, if applicable
If you can provide pictures of the damage, they’ll strengthen your report. The more information you can provide, the more solid your case will be.
What Happens After I File a Police Report?
Once police officers compile their report, they’ll submit it for processing. In San Diego, the processing time is usually 3-10 business days. Once your report is processed, you can request a copy of it online, in person, or via mail. Processing fees apply, which will cost $10-$12. Send your request by mail to:
SDPD Records MS#726
P.O. Box 121431
San Diego, California, 92112-1431
When you’re at the scene of the accident, ask for the assisting officer’s business card. He or she will be your point of contact throughout the claims experience.
What to Do If the Police Won’t Come
The San Diego police department only responds to accidents that result in injuries. If you’ve only sustained property damage, you’re still entitled to file a report. File a police report in person through the San Diego Police Department as soon as you can.
The state of California also requires you report all accidents resulting in property damage within 10 days. Remember, the more information you can provide, the better equipped you are to successfully receive a claim from your insurance company.
Next Steps: Selecting an Attorney
Once you’ve filed a police report, the next step is to contact an experienced law firm to handle your personal injury claim. Conditions like whiplash can cause chronic pain that lasts for months. Physical therapy and other treatments may not be covered by your insurance. Don’t let the other driver get away with negligence and leave you to clean up the mess. Talk to us about a free initial consultation.