One of the most important first steps you need to take after an auto collision in Northern Arizona or Flagstaff is to contact the police and obtain a copy of the police report. It may be crucial evidence you can use to convince the negligent driver’s insurance company of their liability to pay you the full value of your claim. Even if you believe the accident was minor, you should call law enforcement officials immediately and wait for them to arrive at the scene of your wreck.
What Is Your Duty to Report a Car Accident in Arizona?
In Arizona, individuals involved in an auto crash are not required to report it. However, the police are required to file a written police report in these situations:
- Someone suffered injuries
- An individual was killed
- The collision resulted in vehicle or property damages of over $1,000
- One of the drivers was issued a traffic citation
While you are not required to report a car collision, it is always best to contact law enforcement officials immediately. You could be charged with a hit and run if you do not report the wreck and instead leave the scene. In addition, your auto insurance policy may require you to report the auto accident quickly—possibly within 24 hours.
How Can a Police Report Help You Win Your Case?
Although a police report may not be admissible in court for technical reasons, it can provide valuable information that can help you convince the insurance company that their insured’s negligence caused your car collision. In addition, the officer who wrote the police report could testify at your jury trial about their findings in the report.
The police officer would conduct an investigation before writing their report. Helpful information that the police report could contain includes the following.
Details of the Collision
The police report would state the date, time, and place of the auto crash. This can help you prove that there was an accident if the at-fault driver or their insurance company disputes that it occurred, which sometimes happens.
The police officer will include the contact information for all drivers involved in the wreck and their insurance companies. You will need this information to file a claim with the other motorist’s insurance company.
The report may also include the contact information for witnesses. However, you should collect this information so that you can obtain written statements from eyewitnesses who can corroborate that the other motorist caused the crash.
The law enforcement official would interview the other driver and you and summarize the statements in the police report. They may also interview eyewitnesses.
Knowing how the other motorist claims the collision occurred can be helpful. In addition, if they make incriminating statements, you could use their admissions against them in settlement negotiations with the insurance company or at court hearings.
Narrative of How the Collision Occurred
The police officer would include a summary of how the car accident occurred. They may also note road and weather conditions and other factors contributing to the crash and injuries that victims suffered.
Officer’s Conclusions About Fault
The officer would also include their conclusions about who caused the car accident. This information can be extremely helpful in refuting the insurance adjuster’s claims that you were wholly or partially at fault for causing the collision.
The police officer could draw a diagram showing the crash scene, the direction both vehicles were traveling, and the point of impact.
The police report would also note whether either driver violated an Arizona traffic law and whether any traffic citations were issued.
If you were injured in an auto collision in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona, you need to retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you collect the other evidence you need to win your case and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. To learn how our dedicated lawyers can assist you, call our Flagstaff office at 928-226-0165 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation. We also invite you to order our free book, Injured in Northern Arizona: What Happens Next Is Up to You, to start learning more about your rights.