Should I Report a Bike Accident to the Police?
Calling the police after you’ve been in a bike accident may seem like a waste of time. After all, what will the officer even do? The damage has already been done, and now, you just want to file your claim and recover from your injuries as quickly as possible. Well, the truth is that failing to report the accident can actually impact the amount of compensation you get from your claim.
The Importance of Police Reports
When an officer arrives on the scene of an accident, she makes a report of what happened. First, she takes statements from everyone involved, then she records what is evident at the scene, and then she gives her own opinion on what happened. But why does any of that matter? You will give your statement to the insurance company, and you can take pictures of the scene of the accident yourself. So, what’s so important about a police officer doing that exact same thing?
Well, first of all, the at-fault driver is far less likely to lie immediately after the accident. At that point, he won’t have much time to figure out a good cover story, and may not be thinking straight due to the adrenaline. So, when the officer shows up, he may be more inclined to tell her the truth. Once his statement is written down, it is far more difficult to recant it later on.
Then, the officer will know what details about the scene should be recorded. Remember, the police are trained to handle these situations, you are not. While you should always take photos of the scene of the accident for your own personal evidence, the officer will be able to quickly pick out what details are truly important.
Finally, the police officer’s opinion matters, especially if she leans in your favor. The more people you have that agree you are the victim and the at-fault driver is, well, at fault, the less the insurance company will have to fight you with. The officer may also notice things about the at-fault driver, such as if he is drowsy or drunk, that you did not pick up on. If so, you can use those observations to your benefit.
How to File a Report
After a bike accident, the first thing you should do, after checking yourself for serious injuries, is call the police. You don’t have to use the emergency number, although if you are seriously injured, you should always dial 911 so that medical assistance is rushed to you. The officer that arrives at the scene will write up the report and file it for you. Once you need it for your claim, you can call into the police station and ask for a copy. Or you can go in person and receive a copy at the station itself.
If you did not call for the police immediately at the scene of the accident, you can still file a report after the fact. While this report may not be as useful as one written by an officer who saw the scene herself, it can still help you down the line. To do so, you can call the non-emergency number, and explain to the officer what happened and that you need a report filed. Alternatively, you can go to the station in person and speak to someone there.
How a Report Can Impact Your Claim
Considering the importance of the police report, the real question is: what will it do for your personal injury claim? Well, when you file a claim, you aren’t just filing against the at-fault driver, but his insurance company as well. Insurance companies rarely, if ever, want to pay out settlements. This means that they will fight your claim, and may even blame you for the accident.
One of the key ways they do this is by changing the story of what happened. While you may remember the at-fault driver swerving between lanes and hitting you, he may later claim that you were riding in a car-only lane, making you the one at fault. It can be difficult to disprove these lies if you do not have adequate evidence — the police report being one of the best pieces of evidence you could use. The report will give a clear, objective narrative of what happened, and, if the at-fault driver told the officer the truth of what happened, it can show that the driver’s story has changed over time.
Ultimately, you want as much evidence in your favor as possible, and the police report plays an important role in that. However, evidence may not be enough. You also need someone who is able to navigate the claims process, and who isn’t afraid to go head-to-head with an insurance company. That is where we at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, come in. As top Glendale personal injury attorneys, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at (818) 507-4311 to speak to a member of our incredible legal team today.
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