How are Police & Accident Reports Used in Personal Injury Cases in DC?

After a motor vehicle accident in Washington D.C., a police officer will generally respond and fill out an accident report. This police report can be a very important document, especially if any drivers, passengers, or pedestrians are injured in the accident. The accident report may be used by the insurance companies in settling claims, or by your attorney in a personal injury lawsuit. It is important that the accident report is accurate. If there are mistakes or errors in the report, you may need to contact your attorney to challenge the report.

Call the Police After a Motor Vehicle Accident

In order to get a police report or an accident report, you may have to be the one to call the police. A minor fender bender in a parking lot may not require a police report, but can still be a way to protect you later on if the other person involved changes their story. There are some accidents that require you to contact the Metropolitan Police Department, including:

  • Accidents involving serious injury or death;
  • A vehicle is disabled in the accident;
  • The other driver does not have automobile insurance;
  • A hit and run accident;
  • The other driver does not have a valid license; or
  • The driver appears to be intoxicated.

In some cases, drivers may try and avoid calling the police after an accident. They may not want their insurance rates to go up, or the driver may have a suspended license or is driving without insurance. They may even try and pay for the expenses out of pocket. Before you agree to not call the police, make sure you understand what may be at stake. The other driver may later claim that you caused the accident, and sue you for injuries that never occurred. If you don't have a police report, it may be their word against yours.

Accident Investigation

When a police officer arrives on the scene of an accident, they will generally complete the accident report. This includes taking basic contact information from everyone involved and conducting a preliminary investigation of what occurred. If the accident was minor, the investigation may be cursory. However, if the accident involved criminal activity, such as a DUI, or serious bodily injury, the investigation may go more in-depth.

The report is given a six-digit CCN number, which you can use for future reference if you need to respond to the investigation or request a copy of the report. You, your insurance company, and your personal injury attorney can request a copy of a PD-10 accident report in person, by mail, and by email.

The police investigation usually consists of locating the drivers and any pedestrians involved, and conducting a canvass for witnesses or videotaped evidence. The officer will interview all drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and witnesses involved, recording relevant information. The officer may then record any additional information they observe about the accident. An officer should make sure all parties involved have exchanged accurate contact information, including insurance information.

An accident report usually involves a diagram of the event, including the location of the crash, the direction of travel, and locations of traffic signals. If a driver reports the accident was called by a vehicle defect (defective brakes, air bag defect, defective reclining mechanism, or defective seat belt), the officer should record the defective equipment claim, and the vehicle may be inspected by the DC Motor Vehicle Inspection Station.

Using an Accident Report in a Personal Injury Case

The police report may appear to indicate which party was at fault for the accident. However, the accident reports are not always accurate. Contact your attorney if the report does not reflect what happened in the accident.

The accident report can be useful for your attorney in settling your personal injury claim. The report could show that the other driver was at fault, which may make the other driver want to settle the claim to avoid the time and costs of lengthy litigation.

If the parties cannot settle the case before it gets to trial, the accident investigation report may be used in conjunction with testimony from the reporting officer. The police officer will generally report what they witnessed, and what they recorded in the report. However, it is important to remember that the police officer usually does not witness the accident but only reports on what they witnessed after the accident.

Washington D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys

Don't worry if you don't know what to do with your accident report after a personal injury accident. Your personal injury attorneys will investigate your case and make sure the report is accurate. At Gilman & Bedigian we will use a police accident report to negotiate a settlement for your car accident injuries and damages. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with car accident injury cases throughout the DC-metro area. We will fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Let Us Help

If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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