Why do I need a crash report?
If you’re involved in a car accident in Texas, most likely an official Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report, or CR-3, will need to be filed by an officer at the scene. The official will document any and all pertinent information in the crash so you and anyone else involved will have the specifications to use when it comes to insurance or the courts later on.
However, if the crash you were involved in was something minor in which minimal damage is done, you will be tempted to leave the scene. This happens most often when two drivers exchange insurance and contact information believing they will be able to amicably resolve the issue themselves. While it may seem like the best way to get on with your day and avoid any headaches, you should never leave the scene of any crash without calling the police and filing an official accident report.
Filing a crash report as soon as possible after your accident protects you as well as any others involved in the crash in a number of ways. They are vital when it comes to filing your claim whether it be with the insurance company or in the court system. If you should need an attorney to fight for your right to reimbursement later on, having a crash report will improve your chances of winning the claim exponentially.
How does an accident report protect me?
There are a number of ways filing an accident report protects your best interests after you’ve been involved in a crash. If the unthinkable does happen and you or a loved one sustain serious injuries or even die as a result of the accident, an official report of the crash will ensure critical details are documented in a timely manner such as:
- A step-by-step narrative of how the incident occurred.
- Descriptions of all injuries sustained at the scene by everyone involved.
- Details on damages to both vehicles involved.
- Roadway and traffic conditions that may have contributed to the crash.
- Identification information for all parties involved.
Each one of these points can help you receive appropriate compensation for damages and injuries after a serious crash. While it is extremely rare for an accident report to slip by and not be filed following an accident, it has happened and the repercussions could be detrimental:
- You or other parties involved in the crash may have a different memory or recollection of how the incident transpired at a later time.
- The official crash report contains unbiased facts form an impartial law enforcement official at the scene. This protects you from the other individual claiming the crash was your fault later on even if it was not.
- If you experience or notice an injury from the crash in the following days or weeks, the accident report will allow you to file a stronger claim that will hold whoever is responsible for the crash accountable.
- If your insurance company cannot prove that you were taking every possible safety precaution to avoid the crash, they could increase your rates. A crash report could prove you were in fact taking those precautions.
Common Questions about obtaining a crash report
The penalties for not filing a report vary from state to state. Texas takes accident reports incredibly seriously. According to Texas Law, you could face significant fines and even jail time if you fail to file a report for an accident resulting in:
- Property damage over $1,000
- Any injuries, minor or critical
- Death of any party involved.
While extremely minor crashes do not require you to report them under penalty of law, you still need to file a report. Regardless of how serious the crash is, the report will protect you from any falsities being claimed against you in the future.
This is especially common in minor crashes in which very little damage and no injuries were sustained in the accident. The police may take a long time to arrive and the other driver will get restless, insisting on leaving the scene after receiving your insurance and contact information. In this case, the best thing to do is avoid any kind of confrontation with the individual and ask if they would provide a statement for the report at a later time.
In this case, you need to document all of the evidence you can before they leave the scene. Take photos and notes of any damages to their vehicle and wait for an official to arrive and begin filing the report.
In short, no you should not be interviewing anyone at the scene, leave that to the investigator who is filing the report. If the crash was serious and injuries were sustained, any direct witnesses will likely stay at the scene to assist in the investigation. If the crash was minor, most people will likely walk away while the individuals involved work it out. However, getting a statement from another impartial individual who saw the crash transpire could be very helpful when filing a claim later on.
The Official Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report has a section towards the end where the investigator can include a diagram of what they saw at the scene. If there is no video evidence from security or dash cameras nearby, this is the next best thing when it comes to an accurate visual representation of the scene. Having a comprehensive diagram of each vehicle and landmark around the crash will immensely help your claim. This diagram will help to determine fault and provide key information on the incident likely transpired.
There are several reasons why having a law enforcement official file your crash report is critical to the process:
- They are the only individuals who can file an official report. While you are able to give you input through other documents, the only people who are legally allowed to file an accident report in Texas are licensed investigators with a law enforcement agency.
- Officials will not pick sides. A law enforcement official arriving on the scene will be impartial, they will collect only the facts and decipher who is at fault from that point.
- They are trained and prepared for accident situations. Most people are shaken up and not of sound mind after being involved in a crash, an officer will remain calm and ensure no stone goes unturned.
Dealing with insurance companies
When filing a claim with your insurance company after a crash, one of the very first things they will request is a certified copy of your accident report. Adjusters use accident report as a clear and concise guide to deciding what type of compensation you qualify for after the crash. Without filing a report, they will be forced to make decisions based on interviews with you and the other parties involved which could lead to false information. This could ultimately lead to your rates increasing or losing your claim altogether.
The very first thing you need after being involved in an accident is a copy of your accident report. While most sites charge a processing fee, we believe you should never be charged for the information you have a legal right to obtain after an accident.