Being in an auto accident is no laughing matter. Even a minor fender bender can ruin your day and lead to long-term hassles, and a serious accident can have serious consequences, including injuries, financial hardships, and legal problems. If you’ve been in an accident—minor or serious—you’re going to want to take steps to protect yourself from problems like these. And one of the most important steps you can take is to fill out an accident report.
What is an Accident Report?
As the name suggests, an accident report is a document filled out by all those who are present at the scene of a collision. This includes the drivers of both vehicles, and depending on the situation it might also involve passengers in either vehicle as well as others who may have witnessed the accident. While reports are not always filled out right at the scene of the accident, it is important to fill them out as soon as possible.
This document is necessary because it provides the police and—later, if necessary—the courts with important information about what led to an accident, what damage occurred to vehicles and other property and who might be at fault. These documents are important because they are usually filled out soon after a collision occurs, while the incident is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Moreover, they act as legal evidence should it be necessary for insurance or legal purposes down the road.
Should You Always Fill Out an Accident Report?
In short, the answer is always yes. Even if you were involved in a minor accident with no apparent damage or injuries, filling out a report is necessary to protect you later on. This is because many injuries, including serious ones like neck problems, don’t always show themselves right away. You might feel fine now, but after a day or two you might begin to notice signs of possible whiplash or other concerns. Without a timely accident report, it is much more difficult to make a case to the courts or an insurance company.
An Accident Report
When it comes to filling out the actual report, there is no such thing as “too much information.” There is, however, definitely a thing as too little so you need to make sure to be as thorough as possible! If you’re not sure, this is the point where enlisting the services of an attorney can really be beneficial for your case and your overall well-being.
In short, though, here is the information you need to include in your report:
A description of what happened. This seems obvious, but it’s without a doubt the most important piece of information. For this part, be thorough and descriptive, but try to abstain from frantic, emotionally charged language. Yes, you want to tell your side of the story, but the police are more interested in getting the facts as you understand them to be. Make sure you tell your side of the story from beginning to end, including what you did, what you saw and what the other driver did.
The number of people involved. It’s also important for the police to know who else was in the various vehicles. Make sure to include the names of all those who were in your car, and try to provide the number and description of the passengers from the other vehicle, too.
The names of any witnesses. While you might think this is the job of the police, depending on how long it takes, many witnesses might choose to leave before they arrive. As nice as it would be, they are under no legal obligation to stay around. So, if you have identified possible witnesses and they look like they are leaving, ask them if they would be willing to speak to someone later to tell what they witnessed. If so, record their contact information and include it in your report so that someone can contact them later.
Your personal information. Name, phone number, address, and insurance information are all necessary in a report.
A list of damage and injuries. If your accident resulted in damage to vehicles, property or people, this also needs to be recorded in the report. As mentioned earlier, not all injuries manifest right away, but it is still important to be as honest as possible when filling out this part.
Getting Legal Help
If you have been involved in an accident and need help, have questions or would like to speak to someone about your accident report and what should be included, it’s important to understand that all of these questions you have are perfectly normal. We know that this is a difficult time, and we are here to answer your questions and help you in any way that we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact us right away!