We’ve seen it in the news, broadcasted on television, and trending on social media. Many of our nation’s police officers have been injured or killed in the line of duty to protect their city’s citizens against violent protesters. They were threatened during some of the post-election disturbances with Molotov cocktails and bottles being thrown at them in Portland and “Kill the police” chants from Indianapolis protesters.
Beneath the chaos, officers are laying down their lives to uphold the law and to protect you and me. Simple daily activities like patrolling the streets and providing local security are overlooked. Think about how often we rely on the police for help.
What if you’ve been injured in a car crash caused by a negligent driver? The wreck wasn’t your fault, but it’s your word against theirs. How can you recover payment for the damage to your vehicle? What if you’ve been injured and miss valuable work hours to recover? Who is going to pay for your missed wages and medical charges?
The police can be your most valuable witnesses in the event of a car crash.
An officer’s fair, unbiased report of the crash is important evidence you will need for an insurance claim, and a lawsuit should you need one for your injuries, loss of income, or property damage.
More importantly, an officer’s first priority is to make sure that everyone is okay. If you or someone else has been hurt and medics are not on site, the police will make sure you receive proper medical attention.
The police will investigate the cause of the crash and identify the at-fault driver. They will collect your statement as well as that of the other driver and witnesses on scene and will examine both of you to prove or rule out substance abuse. They will often take photos of the damaged vehicles, skid marks, and road debris as proof for their report.
Even if you’re not hurt and the damage to your vehicle is minimal, a police report will be very useful in filing your claim with the insurance company for vehicle repairs.
You can help the police investigate your crash.
No one can prevent the unexpected from happening, and it’s my hope that you never have the experience of being in a crash. However, I can give you some advice to help the police, and yourself, in the event of a car wreck.
You can help yourself and the police by checking yourself and others for injuries. If the police ask if you’re hurt and you’re not sure, simply say that you are not sure. It’s almost a reflex, when someone asks, “how are you?” to say “I’m fine.” But, in our experience many injury symptoms don’t develop until days or even weeks after a crash. We can guarantee you that those hopeful, innocent words “I’m fine” WILL be used against you!
If you’re able to you should supplement the officers' photos of the damage to your vehicle with your own. These will come in handy for your insurance company and attorney until they can acquire the police report. Remember that you should never interfere with a police investigation. If you can't take photos during the initial investigation, take them as soon as the police have done their job.
Keep in mind that you should never give a statement other than to the police and never sign anything unless the police ask you to. Do not give a statement to the other insurance company.
When you give your statement to the police, remember to:
- State only the facts. Tell the police exactly what happened to the best of your ability. If you do not know certain facts, say that you don't know. Don't guess.
- Take note of the investigating officers. Did they issue anyone a ticket? Which officers were present? What are their names and badge numbers?
- Get the police report number. You can use that number later to get a copy of the completed police report. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
Try to stay calm and remember these few things. If you have been hurt at all, let us help you. Hamstead, Williams & Shook has the knowledge, skills, and experience with these types of cases. If you have any questions, give us a call at (304) 296-3636 or click the button below to schedule your free consultation: