In driver’s education classes and when reviewing the terms of your insurance, you may have heard that you must contact the police to file a police report after a car accident. While this isn’t a bad piece of information for how to proceed following a car accident, the truth is that the officers arriving at the scene do not always file an accident report. In addition, conditions may prevent accident victims from filing a report. In other cases, the full extent of the damages or personal injury may not be realized until after some time has passed. Whatever the situation, one may find themselves at a disadvantage if they are lacking a police report to provide to an insurance company or court after suffering an injury resulting from a car accident.
The truth is Ohio state law only requires police to come to the scene and file a report when a car accident results in an injury that requires medical care, results in a fatality, or property damage totals more than $1,000. However, if a person involved in an accident doesn’t realize their injury until hours or days after the accident and chose not to notify the authorities (or the authorities were unable to come to the scene for some reason), a report may not have been filed. While a police report is not the end-all-be-all when seeking damages for personal injury, it’s important to understand the law surrounding it as well as the requirements placed on officers when filing car accident reports.
Personal injury can be apparent immediately following a car accident or it can manifest further down the road. For instance, sometimes whiplash victims do not experience serious symptoms until hours or days after. Intense and pervasive headaches, neck pain, nerve damage and other issues can creep up long after an accident, even if there were no immediate signs of trauma at the time the accident occurred. You have the right to seek reparations for car accident injuries caused by the negligence of another motorist.
Negligent drivers could show up anywhere and at anytime, and there could be a variety of different factors behind their driving decisions and behaviors leading up to the crash. Driving while impaired is not only an act of negligence, but is also punishable by law. However, one does not need to be impaired for their actions to lead to serious injury – just plain lack of due care can easily cause an accident. Finding out the factors that contributed to your car accident injury can help to determine fault and influence the court’s decision. With that in mind, having a police report is a crucial piece of evidence in establishing those factors.