What is a Car Accident Report?

A car accident report is a report filed by the police officer documenting the details of the accident, including date and time of the accident; names of parties; types of vehicles; location of vehicles and notes of damage; statements from the parties involved, description of the scene; names of witnesses, etc. One of the most important things to do in a car accident is to call the police as they are obligated to file a written car accident report about what happened. Your car accident report will be available 2-5 days after the incident.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 23, 2020

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A car accident report is a report filed by a police officer documenting the details of a car accident. One of the most important things to do in a car accident is call the police as they are obligated to file a written report about what happened. A typical police report contains the following information:

  • Date and time of the accident
  • Names of parties involved
  • Types of vehicles
  • Location of vehicles and notes of damage
  • Statements from the parties involved
  • Description of scene (including traffic signs, direction of travel etc)
  • Names of witnesses

Car accident reports filed include this information and many more details which can help when filing a claim. If the accident was not your fault you certainly want a detailed accident report to help maintain your innocence as its very common for drivers to change their story once they leave the scene of an accident. The vehicle accident report is typically available about 2-5 business days after the accident.

Why is a Car Accident Report is critical?

Filing a claim never happens at the scene of an accident. This is something very important to remember and one of the biggest reasons why a car accident report is critical. When you incur damage from a car accident your main priority is to make sure everyone is safe and then call your insurance company. Typical turn around times for an insurance adjuster to come out and appraise the damage can be a couple hours to a couple days but unless the accident is serious very few car insurance companies send an adjuster to the scene.

This means car insurance companies need to recreate the circumstances of the car accident to confirm who is at fault and without a written police report a possible discussion of “he said, she said” can happen. When money is on the line and a potential risk to higher car insurance rates many people will alter their stories after the fact. A car accident report helps verify much of the information from the accident and has proven to aid in faster claims handling.

Car Accident Reports and Getting Sued

Have you ever heard of anyone getting sued at the scene of an accident?

No – because the accident just occurred and it takes time to gather some basic facts about the accident. Injured parties can easily be persuaded to change a little item here or there with dreams of winning $10,000 or more from a nuisance lawsuit. While a car accident report will never prevent a good car accident attorney from finding some reason to sue it can certainly reduce the number of reasons why.

Always ask for a Copy

The scene of even a minor car accident can be frustrating and emotional for many but its always important to get the name and phone number of the police officer writing the report. All police departments are government run and its well known that not all our government branches work so smoothly. With the name and phone number of the police officer you can follow up and get a copy of the police report a couple days later without having to jump through hoops.

Car accident reports can play a large role in any car accident so never assume you don’t need to file a report. It’s always in your best interest to have a car accident well documented to prevent additional liability in the future.

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