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Do You Need a Police Report for a Fender Bender in Florida?

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, a fender bender might seem like a minor inconvenience. However, even seemingly minor accidents can have far-reaching consequences, which is why it’s never a bad decision to call 911 or your local law enforcement agency after a crash.

Not only will responding law enforcement officers be able to help with things like traffic control, debris clearing, or calling for medical support, they’ll also be able to collect essential information about the accident that may prove useful later – especially if you file a personal injury claim.

Understanding Police Reports

A police report is an official document created by law enforcement officers who respond to an accident scene. It contains vital information regarding the accident, including the date, time, and location, as well as the information of parties involved and any witnesses.

Police reports also commonly include statements from the involved parties, statements from witnesses who saw what happened, diagrams of the accident scene, and the officer's assessment of who was at fault.

Importance of Obtaining a Police Report

Even if your fender bender seems minor at first glance, and even if you don’t feel that you suffered injuries worth treating at the time, obtaining a police report is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Documentation of the Incident: A police report provides an official record of the accident, ensuring that important details are accurately documented by an impartial, third party. This can be invaluable when dealing with insurance companies or when pursuing legal action such as a personal injury lawsuit, later.
  2. Establishing Fault: Information contained in the police report, including the officer's assessment of fault based on their investigation, can help clarify liability and help in matters where fault is disputed. And while Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system in which car accident victims can recover medical bills and other injury-related losses through their PIP insurance without having to prove who caused a crash, fault can become a major factor should you need to file a personal injury claim outside of the PIP system.
  3. Preserving Evidence: Memories fade and details become fuzzy over time. By obtaining a police report promptly after the accident, you preserve critical evidence that may be needed later to support your claim.
  4. Correlating Injuries: Even if you don’t get medical treatment at the accident scene because you feel fine or feel that your injuries aren’t severe enough to warrant medical attention, it doesn’t mean that everything is okay. Some injury symptoms may not become apparent for hours or days after a crash, even if they’re severe. Fender benders, for instance, have enough force to cause serious neck, back, and other musculoskeletal injuries that require extensive downtime, treatment, and rehabilitation. They’re also a known cause of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, which occur when the brain rapidly accelerates within the skull, even without blunt force trauma. By getting a police report, you’ll have a record that can help establish a timeline of events and correlate any injuries you later report to the accident.

Utilizing Police Reports in Personal Injury Claims

When pursuing a personal injury claim after a fender bender, a police report can be a valuable piece of evidence. Here's how it can be used to strengthen your case:

  1. Corroborating Your Account: The details you provide to responding law enforcement officers at the accident scene can support your version of events later. Consistency between your statements and the information in the police report bolsters your credibility.
  2. Supporting Medical Claims: If you seek medical treatment for injuries sustained in the accident, the police report can serve as documentation of the incident, helping to establish a link between the accident and your injuries.
  3. Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance adjusters rely on evidence to evaluate claims. A well-documented police report can provide the necessary support for your claim and increase the likelihood of a fair settlement.
  4. Preparing for Litigation: If your case results in a personal injury claim where fault is disputed, a police report can serve as a foundational piece of evidence to support your claim for compensation, whether it’s though negotiations or litigation at trial.

Police Report or Not: An Injury Lawyer Can Help

In Florida, obtaining a police report for a fender bender is not just a recommended step – it's a crucial one, especially if you've sustained injuries. Whether you're dealing with minor or significant injuries, a police report can provide the documentation and evidence to support your claim and help you pursue fair compensation.

Remember, the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, and taking the right steps early on can make a significant difference in the outcome of any injury case you pursue. But regardless of what you did or did not do after a crash, working with experienced attorneys can ensure you have the support to navigate the legal process.

If you’ve been injured in a fender bender and are considering a personal injury claim, don’t delay in reaching out to our award-winning attorneys at Perry & Young. With thousands of successfully handled cases and millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, we have the insight to explore your options and fight for the financial recovery you deserve.

Perry & Young proudly serves clients across Northwest Florida from offices in Marianna, Panama City, Panama City Beach, & Tallahassee. Call (850) 215-7777 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.