Do I Need to File a Police Report After a Car Wreck?

If you have a car wreck, then you are probably going to want to file a car insurance claim. However, in order to make the claim successful, you will have to present appropriate evidence to your insurer. In some cases, this will mean that you must file a police report to support your claim. In others, however, a police report will not be necessary.

Whether you have to file a police report following a car accident will depend on numerous factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the finer points that you must consider when deciding whether to do so.

When to File a Police Report

All states require vehicle accidents to be reported if they meet certain benchmarks. So, while not all accidents mandate a police report, there is often a very clear set of rules present for when you must contact the authorities.

Though all laws vary, you usually must contact the police if:

  • The accident involves more people than just a single driver and their passengers.
  • Total damages amount to $500 or more.
  • A vehicle needs to be towed away.
  • An involved party is injured.

Essentially: If it's worth filing a car insurance claim, then you will be better off filing a police report.

The report can come in handy following even a minor accident. With it, you'll have a legal document establishing what happened and it will be harder for anyone to misremember or change their story to the insurer. The human memory can be a little hazy, and we all have those moments where we find out we were wrong on something we were dead certain about. That's fine if you're just misremembering movie scenes or the color of your shoes, but not so much when it comes to a car accident.

The Process of Filing a Police Report

Often, it is best to file a police report while you are at the scene of the accident. However, in some cases you do have a grace period to contact the police after an accident occurs.

Still, it's a good idea to take notes right after a car accident, regardless of whether you plan on filing a report or an insurance claim. Having a record for yourself and for your insurer, at the very least, can make it easier to file a claim, and easier to remember precisely what happened.

You don’t have to write down the details of the accident minutely. However, documenting the damage in a few notes, photographing the damage and asking if a witness saw what happened can help you get the details you need to file an insurance claim. It may be difficult remembering precise details later, so getting the facts down right away is never a bad idea.