One of the most important things to do as the victim of a car accident is to call 911, even prior to contacting a Los Angeles car accident attorney. Depending on the severity of the crash, various crews will respond to provide necessary assistance, including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Officers always generate a police report for auto crashes, which are available for free at the LAPD website, Obtain a Traffic Collision Report. There are certain conditions you should note when requesting a police report:
- You cannot get this information online if the accident involved an arrest, a juvenile offense, or a fatality. Your only option is to request the report by US Mail.
- Only individuals designated by law can request a police report, including an accident victim and personal representative of a victim.
- These collision reports are not available immediately, so allow 45 days from the date of the accident to request the documentation.
There are additional considerations when obtaining a police report, and your Los Angeles trial attorney can assist with the details. However, it’s important to understand why this paperwork is important and the role it plays in your injury claim.
Why Police Reports Matter in Personal Injury Cases
Official police collision reports are valuable as evidence when you seek compensation for your losses after an injury-causing accident. The document contains critical information regarding how the incident occurred, and can potentially be used to prove fault of the other driver. Fault is critical in an auto accident claim because these cases are usually caused by another driver’s negligence.
How Attorneys Use a Free Police Report
In most motor vehicle crashes, your first step will be filing a claim for damages with the responsible driver’s insurance company. Insurers won’t pay out compensation unless you establish that their policyholder caused the accident, so your lawyer will include the police report when submitting your claim information. The problem is that, unless liability is crystal clear in the report, an insurance company may still deny your claim. The argument may be that police didn’t actually witness the accident, so there’s no proof of fault.
Additional Evidence for Your Claim
Because of challenges in using a police report as proof of fault, experienced attorneys will always have a back-up plan. There are other ways to show that the other driver was negligent in causing the accident, such as:
- Testimony of witnesses;
- Video footage from surveillance cameras or official recording devices installed at intersections;
- Observations by accident reconstruction experts, who have scientific backgrounds and experience using advanced software to re-create the circumstances of the crash;
- Your own testimony; and,
- Any other form of evidence that will support your claim for compensation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Los Angeles Trial Attorney
If you were injured in a car accident and have questions about how to get a free police report, please contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers. Our initial consultation is also free for accident victims, and you don’t pay for our legal services unless you win compensation in your case. We’re happy to review your circumstances and tell you more about your legal remedies.