Following a car accident, you can obtain the police report from the sheriff’s office records department for a small fee. Getting an accident report can be a crucial step in protecting your rights and pursuing damages if you were injured in a crash.
Knowing Where to Look and When to Ask for Help
After an accident, you can contact the records department at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to receive a copy of their report. You can either request a physical copy or an online accident report:
- Accident report: $8
- Online report: $14
You can also ask the officer who came to the site of your accident for their contact information and details related to the report to make your search easier. With any legal matter, the more information you can gather, the better, including insight from the first responders who arrive at the site.
You’re Required by Law to Report an Accident
Even for minor incidents, it’s wise to report the accident to the authorities and your insurance company to avoid violating state law, per RS §32:398. Not doing so could cause the other driver to accuse you of fleeing the scene. Louisiana law requires you to report any collision resulting in:
- $500 or more of property damage
You also need to submit a report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours. Much like you would in an insurance statement, include information such as:
- Contact information of the parties involved
- Insurance information
- Vehicle information
- Circumstances of the accident
Having these details helps the authorities understand what happened and potentially assign responsibility to a driver who broke the law.
Allow Time for the Police to File the Report
Wait seven to 10 days before trying to access your accident report, as the police may investigate further to determine what happened. For instance, they may need to review:
- Each party’s statement
- Witness statements
- Traffic camera footage
- Other contributing factors
Being patient can be challenging when you want to move forward with pursuing compensation for your injuries, but you should allow the police the time they need to verify everything. However, if you think the report has been stalled beyond the norm, you can contact our car accident lawyers at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers for help.
Why You Should Obtain a Car Accident Report
Police reports are more than just routine paperwork. Having a report on record can help with the following down the line:
- Determining liability
- Protecting your rights
- Providing evidence
- Lending validity
A car accident report is crucial in pursuing damages if you were injured in a collision. Whether fighting with an insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit, having information in writing can help your case.
An accident report commonly includes information regarding any tickets that the responding officer issued. The other party getting a ticket can be a key point in your pursuit of damages, as it illustrates the negligent action that led to your injuries.
Personal injury claims and lawsuits require proving that the other party:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Violated that duty of care through action or inaction
- Injured you due to that action or inaction
- Can be held liable for those injuries
The car accident report helps satisfy the first two points; it emphasizes what the law was (the duty of care) and how the other driver broke that law (violating the duty of care), thereby establishing that the driver was negligent and can be held liable.
Protecting Your Rights
Filing and obtaining an accident report also protects your right to pursue damages by acknowledging that the crash happened. Failing to file a report opens you up to fines and may also prompt an insurance company to deny your claim. Even if you don’t think you will need to pursue compensation or run into complications, it may be beneficial to go through these steps.
Some collision cases devolve into “he said, she said” arguments, with differing accounts of what each person was doing and how they acted leading up to the crash. Car accident reports focus on the facts and are presented by a neutral third party. They can provide important details, such as:
- Witness statements
- Road conditions
They can also provide some indication of what happened. After all, car accidents are chaotic, and you may not even be sure what occurred, especially if you were hit by another car seemingly out of nowhere. This evidence can form the basis of your case.
Car accident reports lend authority simply by virtue of being filed by the police. Moreover, they can help prove the existence of injuries. Pain is hard to prove, especially for soft tissue injuries or ones that manifest after the accident. A report verifies that an injury and damage happened.
Our Attorneys can Answer any Questions About Obtaining and Using a Report
Our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers offers free consultations to address any concerns you have about getting a car accident report in Lafayette and using it to support your injury claim. Call us today.