If you are involved in a car accident in the Seattle area, one of your first steps should be calling the police. A police report can affect your car accident claim in many different ways, especially when determining fault and liability.
What does a police report contain?
A police report will contain:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Each driver’s personal information, insurance information, and account of the incident
- Statements from witnesses (as well as their contact information)
- Vehicle information
- Extent of the damages
- Factors that may have contributed to the accident, such as weather conditions or vehicle malfunction
- Any citations issued
- An initial determination of fault
Why is a police accident report helpful to a car accident case?
The police report is an important part of any injury or damage case and is often the entire basis for a claim that does not go to trial. It will contain all the necessary information about the other car’s driver and his or her insurance coverage, plus external factors that may be important, such as visibility or the role of a third party.
It will likely also contain the officer’s opinion of who was at fault, which can give authority to your claim. This is especially helpful in cases where fault is not always clear or easy to prove. For example, if a driver was texting when she hit you, she likely will not admit to doing so. If the officers were able to determine she was texting (e.g., by taking her phone), or eyewitness testimony noted on the report said she was texting, it will be easier to hold her liable.
What if the police report says I am at-fault for the accident?
First, we would determine if you were actually at-fault. Police officers are human, and as such, make mistakes. If your police report says you are at-fault and you believe you are not, it could keep you from recovering the compensation you deserve. We will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine exactly how the accident occurred and who is at-fault.
Even if you are partially at fault (up to 99 percent), because Washington follows a pure comparative negligence law, you can sue the other driver for the percentage of damages he owes you. For example, if you sped through a yellow light when a driver turned in your path, the officer might find you partially at-fault for trying to beat the light.
However, it is important to note that your own percentage of fault will decrease your settlement award and leave you open to a claim against your insurance policy.
What if we did not call officers to the scene?
In some cases, both parties decide against calling officers and to handle it themselves. If this is the case, you must both submit reports about the incident to the Washington State Department of Licensing within four days.
You can use this report to corroborate your statements, but it might be more complex as you and the other driver will likely have differing statements. For this reason, it is of paramount importance that you call a Kirkland car accident lawyer.
Call Max Meyers Law today.
Regardless of what the police report says, if fault is disputed, you need the help of a Washington State car accident lawyer. The fault system in Washington can be confusing, so it is important to get the legal help you need, either to obtain the compensation you deserve or to defend yourself.
Max Meyers and his team can work with the police to ensure the report is accurate and build your case for compensation. If the report states you were partially at-fault, Max can build defenses against accusations of fault. This will help to make your settlement higher and ensure the other driver cannot come after you for a large settlement.
Contact Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 for a consultation.