Do You Need a Police Report to File an Accident Claim?

March 7, 2024
Savage, Royall & Sheheen

When you file an insurance claim after a car accident, you need certain documentation to accompany your claim. The insurance company needs proof that the other driver was to blame before they would offer you a settlement check.

The police accident report can be helpful to your case, but it can only go so far as any proof of liability because the officer did not see the crash.

You always need an attorney for a car accident case. The auto accident lawyers at Savage, Royall & Sheheen, LLP, represent injured clients in claims, working to get you the maximum value for your case. Contact us about how to get a police report for your accident.

Do Insurance Companies Need Police Reports for Your Claim?

When you have been involved in a car accident, there is only so much information that you may have to give to the insurance company.

You may have been dealing with your injuries and were not able to talk to any witnesses about the accident. Additionally, your observations may be taken with a grain of salt by an insurance company that could potentially owe you money.

Police accident reports often contain information that you could not have known at the scene.

The report could provide leads for the insurance company to investigate when they are trying to determine liability. Police reports are certainly helpful for insurance companies when they are reviewing your claim.

It is not an absolute requirement for you to give the insurance company a police report, but you will certainly be asked for one. The report may make it easier for the insurance company to process your claim and provide a response. If you do not provide a copy of the police report, the insurance company could certainly use it as an excuse to take more time to respond to your claim.

How Do You Get a Copy of the Police Report in South Carolina?

The report that the police officer gives you at the scene of the accident would not be what you submitted with your insurance claim. The police officer would only give you the preliminary version of the report after the accident.

This initial report may contain some basic information about the crash, including who was involved and where it happened. It would not be a final report with any of their conclusions about what they saw when they arrived at the scene.

It’s up to you to obtain a copy of the police report after the accident. You need to file a request for the accident by using the Form FR-50 and enclosing $6.

The final accident report should include the following information:

  • The date of the crash
  • The location
  • The names of the drivers involved
  • Their addresses and contact information
  • The insurance companies of the drivers
  • A rough picture of the property damage from the crash
  • A description of any injuries suffered by the drivers or passengers
  • The conditions when the officer arrived
  • Alcohol or drug test results
  • Whether the officer issued a citation to any driver involved

If you disagree with any aspect of the accident report, you can contact the officer to request that they consider making a change. Therefore, you must obtain the report soon after the accident to review it.

Is Police Officer Testimony Admissible at Trial?

Insurance companies may use the accident report, and some of the observations contained in it, when they determine liability for the crash. However, there are limits on the use of the police report in the car accident process.

The police report cannot be admitted as evidence at trial. In any type of trial, there are rules of evidence that determine what proof can and cannot be introduced in a hearing.

One major exclusion that keeps out some forms of evidence like the police report is the hearsay rule. An out-of-court statement cannot be admitted in court to assert the truth of a matter unless one of several exceptions applies to your case.

Since the report that a police officer wrote was compiled outside of court, it would not be fair to the defendant to admit the report without their attorney having a chance to question the police officer under oath. Otherwise, the defendant’s rights would be violated because they do not have a chance to cross-examine the police officer or attack their testimony. Meanwhile, they may be left with a report that could increase the chances that they are found liable without being able to do anything about it.

The police officers can only testify in court about what they saw. They did not see the accident itself, so they cannot give an opinion in court about which driver caused it. The officers could only give testimony about what they saw when they arrived at the scene after the accident.

Only witnesses who saw the accident can give reliable testimony that would be admissible in court about the actual cause of the crash. Recently, a South Carolina Supreme Court case held that the officer is not qualified as an expert witness to give testimony about the cause of the crash.

As part of representing you in a car accident claim, a lawyer can utilize sources of information like the police report and witness statements to protect your right to full compensation.

Contact a Camden, SC Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you’ll benefit from taking a few minutes to speak with a lawyer about your case. The attorneys at Savage, Royall & Sheheen, LLP, stand by you ready to help you present the strongest possible case for financial compensation.

Call us today at 803-432-4391 or send us a message online to speak with an attorney during a no-obligation initial consultation.

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