Can You File a Car Accident Claim without a Police Report?
Getting in an accident is difficult enough but gathering information afterward adds even more stress. The first action after a collision is calling medical personnel for injured victims. However, if no one is injured and drivers can exchange information and leave the scene on their own, there is probably no need for police involvement.
If accident cases were always clear cut, drivers swapping information would suffice what’s needed for the claims process. Unfortunately, issues of fault, property damage and undiagnosed injuries frequently come to light after leaving the scene and may require you to have legal representation. Mike Morse Law Firm guides you through the claims process and works to get the full and fair compensation that fits the circumstances of your case.
Is a Police Report Necessary To Submit a Claim?
A police report is not required to file a claim when a car accident occurs. While essential to the evidence-gathering process, these reports use witness statements that may or may not be accurate. Thus, accident reports based on hearsay cannot be used in court as a factual retelling of what occurred. Officers can be called to testify about what they observed. A police accident report provides an indispensable summary of the event and collects essential information, including:
- Time, date and location
- Conditions at the scene
- Information about persons and vehicles involved
- Witness information
- Descriptions of injuries
- Damage estimates of each vehicle (this is a rough estimate and not binding)
- Seatbelt (restraint) use
- Sketch of the accident scene
Officers typically follow a form to gather all of the pertinent information. Insurance companies and attorneys will request copies when handling claims.
Calling Law Enforcement From the Accident Scene
If you call the police station after an accident, you will likely be asked about the crash circumstances. The first question usually pertains to injuries. If the dispatcher assesses the situation as a fender bender, you will probably be directed to trade information with the other driver and handle matters with your insurance companies. Given the demand for police officers to respond to many different calls, this has become the norm for handling minor, non-injury accidents.
This system is not without its drawbacks. Police responding to an accident means a ticket can be issued at the scene. Even when you know the other person is at fault, without police present, the individual may deny responsibility and argue the facts.
Speak with an attorney to protect your rights in this situation. You don’t want to pay for property damage caused by someone else’s negligent actions. Furthermore, if you find you are injured in the hours or days that follow, an attorney investigates the accident thoroughly and fills in the essential details necessary to prove your claim.
Should You File an Accident Report?
It is important to have a record that law enforcement was made aware of an accident. If a police officer cannot file a report, you should do so. You call a non-emergency line and are directed to speak with a police department staff person who takes the information and generates a report.
In some states, a report can be completed through an online submittal process. Whether done by phone or computer, you should receive a report number once you’ve finished that you can provide to your insurance company and lawyer.
What Happens If You Are Injured in an Accident?
Police typically respond to accident cases that involve injuries. When people get hurt in collisions, more intensive investigations are necessary. Additionally, crash scenes with undrivable or totaled vehicles obstruct traffic, so onsite police presence is needed to remove vehicles and manage public safety concerns. If the police arrive, they will submit an accident report.
If you are injured, somebody should notify emergency services. Many times, a witness to an accident makes a 911 call. If you don’t realize you’re injured until later, get medical treatment as soon as possible.
What Useful Information Can You Gather?
As a driver at the scene of an accident, you can collect essential evidence to support your claim. These are the sorts of information to gather and record:
- Date, time and location of the accident.
- Contact information of all parties involved in the accident
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers and insurance details
- Details (make, model, year) of vehicle(s) involved
- Pictures of vehicles and other property damage
- Witness information
- Conditions at the time (weather, visibility issues, construction, etc.)
Don’t discuss any information you put together or explain what occurred with anyone at the scene. It is easy to slip into a conversation about the situation after a shocking event. Sadly, even comments made as a friendly or caring gesture could be used against you later. Stay calm, collect the necessary information, and sidestep questions or conversations.
Should You Talk With Other Insurance Companies?
The other driver’s insurance company loses no time getting in touch with you after an accident. Insurers know the many ins and outs of the claims process. Their questions are designed to make you talk about an accident. Don’t take the bait. You are never required to provide information to another driver’s insurance company.
One reason people seek the help of a car accident attorney is concern over saying the wrong thing to a claims adjuster. It’s a good call to speak with a legal professional. Errors in judgment where insurance companies are concerned can end your chance to get the compensation you deserve.
How Does the Michigan No-Fault Insurance System Work?
Michigan is one of 12 states that follows the no-fault insurance system. No matter who is responsible, each driver in an accident files a claim for damages with their insurance company. This system is meant to expedite claims for car accidents. Michigan drivers must carry a basic no-fault policy that has three types of coverage:
- Personal Injury Protection
- Property Protection
- Residual Liability Insurance-Bodily Injury and Property Damage
Coverages provide for your and others’ damages up to a specified limit. The intention is that these insurance protections cover most situations. Michigan law does allow for tort liability for noneconomic damages under certain conditions. A cause of action for these damages is based on serious bodily injury and impairment.
A minor accident may end up more serious than first thought. If so, all information available to support your injury claim matters. If the police did not respond to the accident and cannot speak to the veracity of your claim, you need an attorney to build your case for damages.
Have a Michigan Accident Attorney Review Your Case
At Mike Morse Law Firm, we understand how issues related to car accidents can turn without warning. It is a desirable outcome if you can walk away from a collision and settle the matter reasonably. The problem is that accident claims rarely have simple resolutions. An attorney looks at all aspects of your case to ensure you are treated fairly.
As Michigan’s leading personal injury firm, our clients are the top priority. When we take your case, we do it with your concerns and needs in mind. Contact us to set up a free case evaluation. There is light at the end of the tunnel after a car accident, and taking the first step to getting help is the most important one.