Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Minor Accident in Seattle?

If you are in a car accident in Washington state, you may wonder what your obligations for filing a police report are. If the accident was very minor, such as a fender bender, you may think that filing a police report is unnecessary. However, you should file a police report in every car accident, no matter how minor. You may be unsure of the extent of your damages and could face consequences down the road. It’s also important to have a knowledgable and experienced Seattle car accident lawyer in your corner. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Why Are Police Reports Important?

The moments after a car accident can be confusing. At that moment, you may feel as if your car accident was minor, no people suffered injuries, and the damage to your car is not extensive – but you may not know the underlying costs of your accident until later. If you do not file a police report at the time of the accident, you can lose out on valuable evidence that might help you collect compensation.

When you file a claim with an insurance company you have to provide them with information about your accident. Having a police report is one of the best ways to prove what happened and the extent of the damages. However, if you do not have a police report, it is up to you to provide the evidence the police would have gathered.

Washington Car Accident Laws

Not all car accidents require a police report in Washington state. However, the state does set a few regulations on reporting that you may be subject to. According to the Washington State Patrol, anyone involved in a car accident must complete a Motor Vehicle Collision Report if the crash meets one or more of the following criteria.

  • Injury to any person
  • Damage to any vehicle or piece of property in the value of $1,000 or more

Since you may be unsure of the extent of your accident at the scene, you should always file a police report and anyone involved in the accident has to file a report under these circumstances, including drivers, pedestrians, property owners, and cyclists. If a law enforcement officer arrives at the scene and indicates that he or she will file a police report, you do not need to file a Motor Vehicle Collision Report on your own.

What Information Is in a Police Report?

Your police report will contain a third-party account of your accident that will provide an unbiased view of what happened. The officer will talk to you and the other driver. The officer will take note of where the accident took place, the date and time of the accident, and the drivers’ contact information and insurance information.

In addition, the police officer will take note of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident, as well as any injuries to you, the other driver, and witnesses at the scene. The officer will also ask you to provide a statement recounting the accident. At the end of this process, the officer will include an account of what he or she believes happened during the course of the accident.

How Can Insurance Companies Use a Lack of a Police Report Against You?

When you need to collect compensation from an insurance company, it is important to remember that the insurance company is not on your side. Since they have to pay your compensation, it is in the company’s best interest to provide you with the smallest settlement possible.

The company will review all pieces of evidence, including the police report, which is the most authoritative account of the accident. Not having a police report will only cause you headaches. The lesson is, always file a police report, no matter how minor the accident. If you’ve been in a car accident, contact the Seattle accident lawyers at Washington Injury Law today.