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Know the Law – Gathering evidence after a car crash

Posted at 9:00 AM, May 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-27 09:00:59-04

When you’re in a car crash, you’re likely shaken up and thinking of many things, and so it might not immediately occur to you that you need to get a copy of the accident report. The car accident report is a crucial piece of information that you must get — and the sooner you get it, the better.

There are many reasons why you need your car accident report. First, your no-fault insurance company will need a copy of the accident report to process your claim for auto no-fault benefits (called PIP benefits).

Before submitting the accident report to your insurance company as part of your claim, review it and make sure it’s accurate. If something is wrong, you need to address the mistakes with the law enforcement agency that responded to the crash and get them corrected right away.

Note: your insurance company may tell you that it will get a copy of the accident report on your behalf. Unfortunately, this is a delay tactic that’s used by some auto insurance companies and it could jeopardize your claim for benefits. That is why it’s best to order the report on your own and keep your own copy.

Another reason you need your accident report? In case you file a lawsuit for damages against the other drivers. The accident report will basically form the basis of any lawsuit and is needed to show that the other driver was negligent or at fault. If you sue the other driver involved in the crash, your attorney will be able to request a copy of the accident report. However, it is still best to get the report on your own — having the report readily available helps the lawyer hit the ground running on your case.

How do you get a copy of your car accident report? Most car accident reports are available online for a small fee.

Note, however, that if you order the accident report online, you need to have sufficient information about the crash in order to find and purchase the report, such as the name(s) of the other driver(s) involved, the police department that responded to the accident, the accident report number, etc. Here are the websites where most accident reports can be found: 1) TracView, 2) Michigan State Police and 3) Clemis.

If you don’t order the accident report online, you can go to the records department of the law enforcement agency that responded to the crash and order the report in person. Just like ordering the report online, there will be a small fee (varies by police department).

Once you have received the accident report, keep a copy of it in a safe place.