If you get into a car accident, one of the first things you should do is contact the police, especially if there are injuries. The officer will ensure that everyone is safe, assess the accident scene, and document his or her findings in an official police report.
Benefits of Notifying the Police
You should always contact the police after an accident, even if you believe you may have been at fault. Here’s why.
At a time when you are probably shaken and confused, police officers will arrive at the accident scene calmly and rationally. Their official police report will be indispensable if you have to make a claim with an insurance company or participate in a personal injury lawsuit.
And, they will divert traffic from the scene and facilitate any cleanup that may be required, to help keep the road safe for others. Above all, the police exist to help everyone who was involved in the accident, including you.
An Officer’s Duties at The Accident Scene
The police officer will do a number of jobs once he or she arrives at the scene. Here are some common tasks that you can expect the officer to complete.
Speak to Involved Parties and Witnesses
The officer will interview all involved parties as well as any witnesses to the accident to obtain a statements about what happened. He or she will also collect each person’s contact information.
Although it’s important to answer the police officer’s questions, be sure to stick to the facts. Everything you say could end up in the police report.
In some crashes, the police officer will take photos of the accident scene, including the vehicles that were involved, their license plates, and any road signage in the area. Even if the police officer takes pictures, it’s in your best interest to do so as well—this evidence could serve you well in the case of an insurance dispute or personal injury lawsuit.
Conduct Field Sobriety Tests
If the officer has any reason to believe that one or more parties was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, he or she may conduct field sobriety tests or transport the driver to a medical facility to undergo a blood test. If it’s determined that the driver is under the influence, the driver will be arrested.
Issue Traffic Citations
The police officer may issue a citation to a driver if he or she determines that the driver violated a traffic law, such as running a stop sign or driving over the speed limit. The driver may even have to appear in traffic court. If there ends up being a lawsuit, the existence of a traffic citation will help to prove that the driver was negligent.
Write the Police Report
After examining the accident scene and interviewing involved parties and witnesses, the officer will write the official police report for the accident. The report may include:
- The time, date, and location of the accident
- The names of the people involved in the accident, as well as their contact and insurance information
- The names and contact information of any witnesses who gave statements
- Statements from the involved parties and witnesses
- The conditions at the accident scene, including any issues with weather, lighting, roads, or any other factors that could have contributed to the accident
- Any traffic citations that were issued or violations that occurred
- A diagram of the accident
- A description of any damage to the vehicles
- A description of any injuries that were sustained
- An opinion about what may have caused the collision, and who was at fault
When you speak to the police officer, be sure to get the officer’s name and badge number, as well as the report number if possible. This will make it easier to get a copy of the police report when it’s available.
What to Do If You’re in an Accident
Car accidents are frightening for everybody, but understanding what police officers do at the accident scene will help you navigate the aftermath of an accident more calmly.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, please contact the law offices of Peoria car accident attorneys Schierer & Ritchie. We will guide you through the process of recovering compensation for your injuries. For a free and confidential consultation, please call us at (866) 250-7527.