More traffic accidents are happening now than ever before. In fact, some reports show that the number of accidents in the United States surged 12 percent just over the past year. They’ve been on a steady increase for at least the last 45 years by some accounts. Some people insist the increase is due to the growing number of vehicles and licensed drivers on the roadways. On the other hand, many experts are attributing it to an uptick in carelessness. Either way, more people are being injured and killed while on the road, and that’s expected to continue moving forward.
Taking Action After an Accident
People often experience sheer chaos in the moments following an accident. After the cacophony of screeching tires, crunching metal, breaking glass, and screams dies down, there’s a flurry of activity to follow. People are rushing around to find out if anyone was hurt and how badly. Emergency personnel are being called to the scene, and then the wails of sirens ensue. Eventually, all the necessary documentation is secured, and it’s time to deal with the aftermath. One vital piece of paperwork is the police report. In the days to follow, you’ll need to know how to get the police report to move forward.
What Is a Police Report?
You’ve probably heard of a police report in the past. If you’ve never been in an accident before, though, you may not fully understand what it is or why it’s important. A police report is an account of an accident created by law enforcement officials who respond to the situation. After everyone’s injuries have been assessed, law enforcement officials will take down details of the crash. These include statements from drivers and passengers involved in the accident and anyone who witnessed it.
Law enforcement officials combine all that information with their training, observational skills, and other factors to compile a detailed description of what happened, why, and who was at fault. These reports provide a professional, unbiased account of the accident. You’ll need the police report to file an insurance claim. It’ll also be essential if you need to obtain legal counsel to get compensation for your injuries and losses.
How Do I Get a Police Report?
In some instances, law enforcement officials will give you a preliminary police report on the scene. It won’t be the detailed account you need for an insurance claim and court case, but it’ll provide some basic information. From there, a full-scale report will be available within three to five days after the accident. The process takes a bit longer in some cases.
You can contact the police or sheriff’s department that responded to the crash for your report. A copy can be obtained in person or requested online and received by mail. It’s also possible to get a copy of the report from your local DMV office. Again, you can visit the office in person or submit a request online.
Getting Your Police Report So You Can Move on
Immediately following an accident, tracking down paperwork is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re most likely focused on your injuries and those of your passengers. You may even be concentrating on how you’re going to get home now that the vehicle you were driving is out of commission. Still, you’ll eventually need a copy of the police report. Keep in mind, both law enforcement and DMV offices usually charge a small fee for police reports, so be prepared when you make the request.