Not every auto accident means that a police officer will be dispatched to the scene. Unless the cars are blocking traffic, someone is suspected of intoxication or there is fighting the only reason the police show up is if there is an injury. For this reason, if you have been injured, there will usually be a police report. The following are a few things you should know about this report, and how it will relate to a personal injury case.
A police report is not a substitute for a doctor's report
A police officer will make a note of injuries in the report, but if the injuries are not severe enough that a paramedic transports you to an emergency room, there may not be any mention of it. This is why it is important to see a doctor right away. There needs to be a record of any complaints you might have and possible injuries. You may, for example, have some soreness that you may think is bruising. This may not warrant a trip to the emergency room, but later, when you see a doctor and there is an x-ray done, you may discover that you have a fractured bone. Any hint of an injury should be checked out by a doctor because it may not show up on a police report.
Claims adjusters rely heavily on police reports
This is important to understand because if you are filing a claim against another person's insurance company, your claim may be denied because of the report. Although mistakes can be made on a police report, often the culprit of an inaccurate report is omissions. This is common when a police officer doesn't seem to think there was a serious injury. But these omissions can make the accident look like it was your fault, and an insurance company may deny your claim.
Witness statements are a common omission
If a police officer thinks the fault is obvious, and there are no serious injuries, witness statements may not be taken. The problem is that if you find out later that you have a serious injury, information from a witness could show the other driver was at fault. Either you or a passenger in the car can get witness information. A police officer's report on the fault of the accident may be different from the point of view of an eyewitness that the officer did not interview.
Always see a doctor after an accident, even for minor aches and pains. And you should get a copy of the police report and compare it to what you remember and the statement of witnesses to the accident that may not be included in the report. Talk to an injury lawyer for more help.