The Steps of Filing a Police Report After a Car Accident
Should you find yourself in a car accident, getting the police involved and having them complete an accident report is an important part of securing evidence and filing an insurance claim or a Jersey City personal injury lawsuit. To streamline this process, it’s essential to understand the law and what you need to do to be in compliance.
Reporting Requirements in New Jersey
One of the first steps after a car accident in New Jersey is to report it to the police. Under New Jersey state law, if any injuries or deaths have occurred from an accident or property damage appears to be more than $500, you’re required by state law to ensure that it gets reported.
“The driver of a vehicle or street car involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or damage to property of any one person in excess of $500.00 shall by the quickest means of communication give notice of such accident to the local police department or to the nearest office of the county police of the county or of the State Police, and in addition shall within 10 days after such accident forward a written report of such accident to the commission on forms furnished by it.”
The easiest way to do this is to call the police immediately at the crash scene so they can come out and document everything. Alternatively, you could go to a local police station later and report the accident.
Written Report Must Be Filed
Additionally, a written report must be filed within 10 days of the accident. Typically, this is a task that police officers who respond to the scene should handle.
However, if it’s considered a minor fender-bender and law enforcement wasn’t at the scene or made aware of the accident, you as the driver would need to complete and submit a New Jersey Self-Reporting Crash form within 10 days from when your accident occurred.
If you fail to report an accident in New Jersey as required, there could be serious consequences: you face a fine of $100 and a suspension of your driver’s license or vehicle registration.
What’s Included in a Police Report?
A police report serves as a formal account of the collision, describing what happened. This document will include information related to the incident, including:
- Date and location of the accident
- Contact information of drivers and passengers involved
- Drivers’ account of events
- Make and model of all vehicles involved
- Insurance and registration information of involved drivers
- Contact information and maybe short statements from any eyewitnesses
- Description of apparent property damage
- Road and weather conditions
Additionally, the police officer might include a rough sketch of how the accident seems to have occurred. They might also include their take on who or what caused the accident.
The Importance of a Police Report
The existence of a police report following a car accident holds significant value. Here’s why they are important:
Most insurance companies demand or at least strongly request an official police report when trying to process claims.
The officer’s narrative usually includes judgments about whose actions (or lack thereof) caused or contributed to the car crash as well as what traffic violations they believe occurred. Insights from law enforcement can go a long way in helping to establish that another person was at fault for the accident.
Record of Injuries and Damages
The police report typically provides a record of notable injuries and property damage observed. This documentation can support your personal injury claim when trying to prove injuries and the extent of damages.
Understanding the crucial role of a police report in car accident cases can be key to securing your rightful compensation. If you’re involved in a car accident, speak with a Jersey City car accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure all important evidence – including the police report – is correctly obtained and used. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.