A car crash is traumatizing and often a near-death experience. While the physical and emotional shock can prevent survivors from thinking straight, knowing the guidelines on what to do next is critical in recovering compensation from liable parties.
In Virginia, it is mandatory to report any car accident that leads to injuries, deaths and damages to the authorities. Doing so allows law enforcement officers to investigate and submit a written report within 24 hours.
Identifying police report information
The Department of Motor Vehicles provides a police report to everyone involved – drivers, passengers, other injured parties, vehicle owners, parents of minors, insurance adjusters, and estate and legal representatives.
Typically, the document includes the following information:
- Location of the crash and scene landmarks
- Personal details of drivers, and potential passengers or pedestrians
- The make, model, license number and other distinguishing details of all vehicles
- Insurance company information of all drivers
- Each vehicle’s speed before the crash
- Road and environmental conditions, including defects, obstructions, and work or school zones
- A crash diagram with points of impact
A police report can help make or break a case. It can support a victim’s claim and invalidate the other party’s account of the events. It provides an objective point of view of how the crash happened.
While the extensive information can depict the underlying causes and results of the accident, circumstances vary and additional proof may still be necessary. When this happens, affected parties must work on getting other pieces of evidence, such as photos, surveillance videos and witness statements.
A police report formalizes that a car crash happened. It is especially central in negotiations with insurance companies. If they dispute a claim, a police report can fill in the missing details or gaps that can justify the nature and extent of damages. With complex information to process and multiple parties to settle with, victims must work closely with their legal counsel to ensure the protection of their rights.