April 13, 2015
Burlington ,NC 27215
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Automobile accidents are generally investigated by the local police or by the state highway patrol. The officers involved in the investigation write an accident report showing what they found. This police report can be used by you or your attorney in investigating what the officers think happened to cause the accident, and the information from the report can be very helpful if a lawsuit is filed.
You or your attorney should check with any relevant federal, state and municipal governments to obtain copies of law enforcement reports. Some of these reports are a matter of public record and are available for a small fee. Some reports might not be available, for example, when a criminal prosecution is involved, or the reports are confidential in nature, and can be obtained through discovery, the court process for obtaining information once a law suit has been filed.
Insurance companies that issued policies covering other people who were involved in the accident will also want a copy of the police report. These companies are subject to the same restrictions as you’re in obtaining the report. A police report is generally not required in order to file an insurance claim. However, the insurance companies will want that report if they have to pursue or defend a lawsuit.
A typical police report contains the following information:
You should note that the information in the report doesn’t necessarily reflect what actually happened. For instance, a traffic report may contain errors such as wrong speeds, points of impact centered incorrectly or blame placed on the wrong party. However, that information might be presented in court someday, and you and your attorney should know about that information before trial in order to be prepared to challenge its accuracy.