If you've suffered broken bones, burns, or other serious injuries in a car accident in King County, Washington, the police report of the accident likely contains key evidence that you will need in order to file a personal injury claim. If you don't obtain a copy of this report, your claim could be significantly weakened. Fortunately, the State of Washington makes it relatively simple to obtain a copy.
Why You Need a Police Report
For any vehicle accident resulting in injury or property damage over $1,000, the State of Washington requires each person involved to file their own accident report to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the police do not come out and investigate. However, the people involved in a car accident may not remember exactly what happened leading up to or during the crash. Unless the forensic evidence is conclusive, this can quickly become a case of one driver's word against the other.
For this reason, you should always call 911 to request police response to any accident involving injuries. The police will then investigate and file a report. This report will be an authoritative account of what the police say actually happened based on an investigation of the scene and a review of witness accounts. This document can serve as key evidence to support your personal injury claim.
The police report will include the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Descriptions of the cars involved
- Identification of the people involved
- Descriptions of damage done and injuries sustained
- Details that indicate which driver was negligent, if the evidence is clear
- Details on possible traffic infractions or criminal charges (e.g., speeding, texting while driving, DUI)
- Any citations issued for traffic violations
How to Get a Copy of the Police Report
You might assume that for any accident you're involved in, receiving a copy of the police report would be automatic—but it's not. While police reports are public, the police make these reports for their own purposes—essentially as documentation for possible traffic violations or criminal charges. If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit, you'll need to request the police report.
Police reports are generally available within four days of the accident. The easiest way to obtain a copy is to go online to the searchable State Police database and request it. You can view the report for free, but we recommend paying the small fee to download and print a hard copy of the report.
If local police responded to the crash, you may request a copy of the police report from them directly. However, most people find it easier just to get it from the State Police website.
Won't I Get a Copy of the Report at the Accident Scene?
No, you won't. If you are handed anything by police, it's likely to be a simple Exchange of Information form. The actual police report won't be filed until after the police leave the accident scene.
Why You Need More Than Just the Police Report
The police report is an important piece of evidence, but it is not the only piece. To build a compelling personal injury case, you'll need evidence from multiple sources. This may include photos/videos of the accident scene, eyewitness accounts, etc. Additionally, the police report may not be as definitive in proving fault as you might like.
For best results, you should always contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help with your claim. A good attorney will be able to correctly interpret the information on the police report and combine it with other key evidence to build a strong case.
The legal team at Max Meyers Law has extensive experience with King County injury accident cases, and we know how to compile and present the evidence in a way that helps you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.