Should you file a police report after an auto accident? The answer is almost always YES. My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a personal injury lawyer in Glenview, Illinois. If you are involved in an auto accident and are unsure if you should file a police report, contact us at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.
The law in Illinois is that any driver involved in an Illinois traffic crash must file a traffic crash report with the State of Illinois within 10 days of the accident if the accident resulted in a death, injury, or more than $1,500 in property damage – 625 ILCS 5/11-408. You can fill the form out the police give you at the scene of the accident or you can file a report online.
There is no law however, that requires you to call the police after an accident. However, as a Glenview personal injury lawyer, I can tell you that it is extremely important to call the police after you are involved in almost any auto accident, from a minor fender bender to a severe accident which resulted in injury.
Why file a police report?
It is extremely important to document the existence of and facts surrounding your accident. If the police do not file a police report after investigating the accident, then it is your word against the word of the driver who caused the accident.
Unfortunately, two drivers in the same accident often see the facts very differently. Therefore, it’s important to have a neutral third party like the police investigate and document what happened. This could include measuring skid marks, talking to witnesses and looking at the damage to your vehicle to try and piece together what happened.
In addition, after an accident you want to obtain the other driver’s auto insurance information. Often the other party does not want to give you their information. The police can do that for you.
Many people don’t call the police after an accident because their vehicle suffered minor property damage or they did not feel they were injured at the scene. Often however, property damage and/or injuries arise later. If you did not document the existence of the accident through a police report, it may be difficult to obtain compensation for your damages.
I have seen several cases where a vehicle involved in an accident started making a strange sound several weeks after an accident. Likewise, injuries often don’t manifest for some time after the accident. If you didn’t document the accident through a police report (and get treatment shortly after the accident) it may be difficult to obtain compensation for your injuries.
You want your vehicle repaired as quickly after an accident as possible. However, the defendant’s auto insurance company may want to see a police report to establish liability or responsibility for the accident before they pay for your property damage. Having the police report will expedite the process.
What if the police won’t come to the scene?
Often you will call the police after an auto accident and they either refuse to come to the scene of the accident or they take forever to show up. Should you file a police report after an auto accident in this situation? Absolutely.
Police are very busy and as such, they often won’t come to an accident scene if there is minor property damage, no injury or they are just too busy at that moment. They also might not file a report if the accident occurred on private property like in a department store parking lot.
I’ve seen cases where there is no police report and a person to tries to file an insurance claim. The driver who was friendly at the scene of the accident suddenly denies that they were at the scene of an accident at all or that an accident even occurred.
If you call 911 after the accident, there will at least be a transcript of your call. You can order that transcript to prove to your insurance company the existence of an accident.
File a report
Should you file a police report after an auto accident if the police do not come to the scene of the accident? Yes. As soon as you are able, go to the closest police precinct and file the police report yourself. Document what time, where, and how the accident happened. Also, be sure to document if you suffered any injuries.
The police may provide you a copy of your police report right at that moment. You can use that to provide to your insurance company to obtain coverage.
However, you may have to wait to obtain your police report. If you are injured in the city of Chicago for example, the police will take a police report, but it is likely that the police report will not be available for several weeks after the accident.
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, around 37,000 people die and 2.35 million people are injured or disabled in auto accidents in the United States every year. Police reports are obviously not filed for all of those accidents. But if you ask me as a Glenview personal injury lawyer should you file a police report after an auto accident? My answer will always be yes, you should. Call me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation on how to file a police report or for any of your legal needs.