Do Police Reports Determine Fault for a Car Accident?

car accident

Police reports can be helpful in a variety of situations, from insurance claims to legal disputes. After a car accident, one of the most important things to secure is the report made by the police officer who responded to the scene. Doing so will provide details about the accident, statements from parties involved, what witnesses saw, the officer’s opinion on what happened, and more. While a police report is not required to prove fault in Pennsylvania, a police report that supports your injury claim can help secure a larger recovery.

How to Get a Copy of a Police Report

If you need a copy of a police report, there are a few ways to go about getting one. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be able to request a copy in person, by mail, or online. In some cases, you may need to provide identifying information, such as the case number or the names of the parties involved. There is usually a small fee for obtaining a police report. Once you have submitted your request, it can take a few days to process. If you need the report urgently, you may be able to get expedited service for an additional fee. With just a little bit of effort, you can obtain the document you need.

Do Police Reports Determine Fault in a Car Accident in PA?

Police reports are supposed to contain information that shows what led an officer to determine who they think is at fault for an accident. For example, a car accident report might contain information about skid marks the officer observed, road conditions, and damage caused by the accident. Then, they’ll consider this information along with statements from witnesses and parties involved with the accident to say who was at fault.

While a police report can be helpful for a person’s insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, it doesn’t always mean that it will have the final say when it comes to determining fault. In fact, some police reports might not reveal who an officer believes was at fault for a crash. When an officer does state who they think caused an accident, it’s their professional opinion and is not binding. So, a police report can help a person’s fault claims but it won’t determine if that person’s claims will be upheld in court or by an insurance company.

What If the Police Report for My Accident Is Wrong?

Accident scenes can be chaotic. Additionally, those involved with them can be confused, shocked, and less than aware of what they are saying. Officers are human, and they are prone to making mistakes on reports as a result. So, when a report is wrong, it can feel frustrating and frightening—especially when a person needs compensation after an accident.

While having a police report that works against you isn’t favorable, it’s far from being a factor that means you’ll lose your case or claim. If the police report is incorrect for your accident, getting help from an attorney can help you find the evidence needed to counter it.

A car accident attorney can help:

  • Find and interview witnesses to record statements about what really happened
  • Search for evidence at the scene of the accident, including any footage from nearby surveillance cameras
  • Hire experts who can provide informed opinions about what really happened during your accident

What If the Other Party Lied on a Police Accident Report?

When the other party lies about what happened during an accident, it’s more than just frustrating—it’s illegal. In Pennsylvania, purposefully providing a false report to the police is a misdemeanor that’s punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $2,500. However, when the other party gives a statement that counters yours, it doesn’t always mean that they’re behaving criminally. Instead, they might be biased, misunderstand what happened, or have the order of events mixed up.

In any case, an inaccurate police report will have serious consequences for your injury claim. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do to fight back. First, it's important to remember that determining fault is not always clear-cut. If there is evidence to support your claim that the police report is inaccurate, a lawyer can make sure to gather it and present it in a clear and concise way. Your lawyer can also speak to witnesses who corroborate your version of events. These are just a few ways working with an experienced attorney can ensure your rights are protected.

Get Help from PA Car Accident Lawyers Trusted Since 1922

If you’re struggling to get compensation from your insurance or wish to hold the other party liable for causing a serious accident, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC is ready to help you. For decades, Pennsylvanians have turned to our lawyers for help after car accidents. We’re can investigate your accident and work towards the results that you need, whether the police report is in your favor or not.

Call us today and let us know what happened at (888) 498-3023. A consultation with our car accident lawyers is free and will help you decide what to do next.

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