The Police Accident Report: The First Building Block of Your Case

Jay Stillman

3 min read

A common question we get at Stillman and Friedland is: “Do we have a case?”

U.S. Navy [Public Domain]If you are in an accident and there are no witnesses except for you and the other party, how is fault determined? Obviously, if you were rear-ended, the other party was at fault. In less clear circumstances, fault is often determined by the officer who writes up the accident report. In this post, we will cover this one essential requirement that helps your accident case on its way to a successful settlement.

The first point is that if the other driver was at fault, it is in your interest to request an accident report immediately. Without an outside statement, the argument is simply what we call a “swearing contest” between the two parties. In dealing with the police, state your case clearly and factually, omitting irrelevant details, and always speak calmly and respectfully to the officer.

If you suspect that the other driver is intoxicated or driving drugged or distracted, you can ask the police do a breathalyzer or drug test. You can also ask for a review of cellphone activity, although your lawyer can also request to have this information later. In all cases where distracted driving is suspected, an exact time of impact is crucial to proving fault. Many late-model cars use black box technology; making your own note to police and having it later corroborated by technology can boost your credibility. Always be courteous and respectful to traffic officers. You should request and not demand.

What if the report does not support your case or fails to include relevant information? You have the recourse of protesting the report and requesting that the police correct the report. Review the report to make sure all details are accurate.

We will get a copy of the report for you and explain your rights and options, no charge, anytime.

Are there other points to bolster your case? A good driving record on your side and a poor record, lack of insurance, or driving without a license on the opposing side may shift the report in your favor. In the State of Tennessee, for just $5 you, can obtain a copy of your own driving safety record (MVR) which shows your driving record over the past three years. The police can access the other driver’s records, but this data is not available to you without the other driver granting you permission. Driving without a license and driving without motorist insurance are both offenses under Tennessee law, and should be noted in the report.

If the other driver is uninsured, your uninsured motorist insurance is probably the only way you can get fair financial compensation for your injuries. Purchasing maximum amounts of this inexpensive coverage is your smartest insurance buy. Remember that Tennessee is in the top ten U.S. states for uninsured drivers, and that uninsured drivers usually have no assets that can be liquidated to compensate you. Uninsured motorist insurance fills that money gap.

Lastly, remember that compensation is based on property damage, medical care and bills, and lost wages. Seek emergency treatment immediately if you are in an accident. Some injuries show symptoms later, and getting checked out right away links symptoms to the accident.

If you are in a disputed accident, use the tools we have highlighted here. An honest and fair attorney will evaluate your case and help you find the best solutions in your situation.

Because we care…