You can file a car accident claim without a police report in Texas. Additionally, state law does not require that a police report is on file before the claims process can begin. However, if you have suffered injuries in a car accident in Texas, a police report could ultimately be essential for the claims process, especially if you are seeking to recover damages.
A report might not be required to file your claim, but having one on hand could significantly increase your chances of success. Often, auto insurance companies will primarily base their decision to approve or deny a claim based on the facts outlined in the police report. Our Dallas car accident lawyer can help secure a copy of the police report for your case.
Why Is a Police Report Important for Car Accident Claims?
A police accident report might not be necessary to file an insurance claim, but it could be invaluable to an insurance adjuster who reviews your claim. The police report provides insurance companies with relevant information about an accident in a single place.
While police officers authorize these reports, they are not a party to the accident itself. Still, this piece of evidence provides essential information that could help prove your case, including:
- The accident’s location
- The parties involved
- Descriptions of the driver or vehicle damage
- The weather conditions
- The date and time of the crash
- A narrative of events
- Indications of who was at fault (but a determination of who was at fault may not be made at the accident scene; this process can take at least a few days)
- Information about witnesses
- Notes on any violations of the law or citations issued
- The officer’s conclusions about the accident, including how it occurred and why
Without a police report, tracking down this information could be difficult—if not impossible. Without all the relevant information, the insurance company could make an incorrect decision regarding a claim or refuse to make a decision at all.
If you pursue an insurance claim without a police report, you will have to find documentary evidence elsewhere. This involves tracking down witness statements, recording the other driver’s license and insurance information, and making careful notes following the collision.
Even then, insurance companies will always approach your account of the accident with skepticism. The value of a police report is that a neutral party compiles it with nothing to lose or gain in the pending car accident lawsuit.
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Why It Is Important to Review the Police Report
When you receive a copy of the report, do not assume the information is correct. The accuracy of this report could make the difference in you or a personal injury lawyer proving your accident-related damages. When you review the report, check to see if the following are correct:
- The accident date, time (or time frame), and location
- The names and contact information for all involved parties
- Everyone’s vehicle and insurance information
- The identities of the vehicle’s owners (this is especially important if a person involved in the accident was driving someone else’s car at the time
- The names and contact information for all witnesses and passengers
- The cause(s) of the car accident (your report may also contain a vehicle code violation in this section of the report)
If you see any incorrect information in the report, such as a factual error or incomplete information, contact the police department and show the representative the errors and proof that shows why the information is incorrect.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for My Car Accident?
The time you have to file an insurance claim after a wreck depends on several factors. If you file a first-party claim with your insurance company, your policy will likely provide you with a timeline.
If you are considering a third-party liability claim on the other driver’s policy, you must act promptly. If you cannot settle with the other driver’s insurer outside of court, you may need to file a lawsuit, which means you must keep track of the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the deadline to file a lawsuit after an accident, and insurance companies will not pay out benefits once that deadline expires. In Texas, injured parties generally have two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the incident, per Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003.
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Do I Have to Report an Accident in Texas?
Sometimes, the police might not issue a crash report following an accident. There are also circumstances where you could resolve your car accident claim with the insurance company even though you do not have a copy of the report. There might be flexibility in these situations, but there is little latitude regarding the obligation to report an accident to the police.
State law requires motorists to immediately report an accident to the police under several circumstances. Together, these circumstances cover the majority of accidents that might lead to a viable personal injury lawsuit. It is required under the law to report an accident to the police if it results in:
- Bodily injury
- Death, or
- Property damage of more than $1,000
Failure to report an accident could have serious consequences under Texas law. For example, you could face thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time if convicted.
The benefit of mandatory reporting is that when the police appear at the accident scene, they will typically make a report on their own. Therefore, in most cases, contacting the police and waiting at the crash scene is the only step you will need to take to ensure a report is made.
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Our Car Accident Lawyer Will Deal With the Insurance Company While You Recover From the Crash
While you can file a car accident claim without a police report in Texas, we do not advise that. However, if possible, securing a copy of the officer’s report could be a vital step toward getting the compensation you deserve.
If the authorities did not issue a police report in your case, do not lose hope. Your car accident attorney could pressure the officer to issue a report promptly. If a report is never made, your legal counsel could still help you pursue a claim with your insurance company. To learn more, call Loncar Lyon Jenkins for a free consultation. Our law firm’s attorneys bring more than 35 years of personal injury experience to every case we handle, and we want to put it to work for you.