The police report written about your car accident is a valuable piece of information when you are filing an insurance claim for compensation. Not only should you report the accident to law enforcement, but you are almost always under a legal obligation to do so.
If you fail to report the collision, it could both pose difficulties for your car accident case and may even land you in trouble with the law. If you have been injured in a crash, the Wilmington auto accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez can help you seek financial compensation for your injuries.
North Carolina Law Requires You to Report Most Accidents
Under § 20-166.1 in North Carolina, you have an obligation to contact the appropriate law enforcement if you have been involved in a “reportable” accident.
The appropriate law enforcement agency is the local police department if the accident occurred in a town or municipality. If the accident was not in a city, you should contact the county police department.
The question always is what is a “reportable” accident. You must report an accident in North Carolina where there is over $1,000 in property damage. You can never quite know what may be $1,000 in damages, as the expense of repairing any damage to a car has gone up sharply.
Therefore, you are better off reporting any accident to the police where there was any damage.
In addition, you must also report accidents where there are any physical injuries. Your insurance company may also require a police accident report, so you should contact law enforcement from the scene, if it is at all possible.
It is better that you not try to make a judgment as to what is a minor accident that you do not have to report. The failure to follow the law about reporting accidents can be a misdemeanor, and you have enough to manage in the wake of a collision.
There Are Other Reasons Why You Should Report an Accident
You have every reason to want to report an accident. One of the first things that the insurance company will look at once you have filed a claim is the police report.
Although the police report is not 100% persuasive, and it cannot be used as evidence at trial, insurance companies often do not want to side against what a police officer observed and put down on paper.
It is vital that you obtain a copy of the police report as soon as it becomes available. You must review the report closely to make sure that it does not contain any factual errors.
There is a process for correcting any mistakes in the police report. You may even speak directly to the officer who wrote the report to discuss anything that you think is incorrect. Given the importance of the police report in the claims process, it is crucial that the document is correct.
How to Obtain the Police Car Accident Report
You can obtain up to five copies of the accident report. There are limited locations where you can go to obtain an accident report in person. You would need to present a valid ID and fill out a Form TR-67A. You must pay $5.50 for each copy of the accident report.
You can also receive copies of the accident report by mail. Also include a check for the amount, with each report also costing $5.50. You would send the completed Form TR-67A and the money to the local police department whose officer wrote the report.
Some police departments have also moved their records online, and you may be able to file a request and pay online.
What Information Is in a North Carolina Accident Report?
A police report for an accident in North Carolina may include key and helpful facts about the crash. Besides including the date and time and verifying that there was an accident, the report should also include the officer’s observations about what they saw and heard when they arrived at the scene of the accident.
The accident report may include the following pieces of information:
- The conditions at the time the officer arrived at the scene
- The time and date of the accident
- What the officer saw when they arrived at the scene
- Any conclusions that the officer reached about the accident
- Whether the officer issued a citation to one of the drivers
- Any witness statements about the accident and the contact information for the witnesses
Can the Accident Report Be Used as Evidence in My Car Accident Case?
Insurance companies may utilize the police report in determining fault. The reason why the police accident report cannot be used at trial is because it is hearsay.
Under the Rules of Evidence in North Carolina, you cannot use an out-of-court statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The reason why is that the other side’s attorney does not get the chance to question the person who made the statement under oath.
The accident report may relate to what witnesses told the police officer when they showed up at the scene of the accident. You would need to introduce the witnesses’ testimony at trial, so they can be questioned on cross-examination. The police officer may only testify to what they observed when they came to the crash scene, and it cannot be in the form of a written report.
Questions About Accident Reports? Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Wilmington, NC
After any car accident, you should hire a lawyer immediately to review your legal case. An experienced car accident lawyer can protect your legal right to full financial compensation when someone else was to blame for your car accident injuries.
Reach out to a lawyer on our team and discuss your case with them. The injury attorneys at Horton & Mendez can talk to you during a free initial consultation, where we will learn more about the facts of your case. To speak with a lawyer, you can send us a message online or call us today at 910-405-7751.