The importance of a police crash report for a Houston car accident

You have just been involved in a car accident. Your vehicle is damaged and you are injured. The other driver suggests you just exchange information and that the police don’t really need to be involved. You don’t want to seem like a bad guy but you think a police report might be a good idea.  What should you do?

GET A POLICE REPORT!

Pursuant to Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062, a police officer investigating a motor vehicle accident in the regular course of his/her duty shall make an accident report when the accident resulted in the death of injury of a person OR there was damage to any one person’s property that appears to amount to $1,000 or more. If you call to request police assistance for your car accident, you should state on the phone whether someone is hurt or if there appears to be more than $1,000 in damage to one or more vehicles, you should say so.

A police crash report of the type used by law enforcement officers in Texas records a lot of information. The report will include information about the drivers involved, their insurance information and usually the statements of the parties involved and the officer’s opinion as to who was at fault. Texas law enforcement agencies are now able to determine at the scene of an accident whether the vehicles involved are covered by valid liability insurance. Requesting the police respond to your car accident may help save hours of frustration on the phone later trying to determine if the other driver had valid insurance.

Another benefit of getting a police crash report for your car accident is that it will help reduce the “he said, she said” factor later on. While the other driver may seem remorseful and ready to accept responsibility at the scene, that may change later. Having a police report documents who said what. A police crash report can also document the identities of passengers in your vehicle, the other vehicle and also witnesses who remained at the scene.

Particularly in Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, police departments are kept very busy and often stretched pretty thin. The prospect of having to wait an hour or more in Houston heat for an officer to respond and make a report may seem miserable, but when compared to the misery of fighting the other guy’s insurance company because there is a dispute about how the accident happened, waiting for a police officer is an hour well spent.

Remember that the officer has up to 10-days from the date of the accident to finalize the crash report and submit it to his/her department. You should do everything you can to get the other driver’s insurance information before you leave the scene, either by asking the other driver for it or asking the police officer to give it to you. Sometimes police officers will tell people that the other driver’s insurance information is in the report: while that may be true, you may have to wait 10-days to get it.

Sec. 550.062.  OFFICER’S ACCIDENT REPORT.  (a)  A law enforcement officer who in the regular course of duty investigates a motor vehicle accident shall make a written report of the accident if the accident resulted in injury to or the death of a person or damage to the property of any one person to the apparent extent of $1,000 or more.

(b)  The report required by Subsection (a) must be filed with the department not later than the 10th day after the date of the accident.

(c)  This section applies without regard to whether the officer investigates the accident at the location of the accident and immediately after the accident or afterwards by interviewing those involved in the accident or witnesses to the accident.

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