31 Oct, 2023

How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident

Author Todd A. Strong
Two police officers responding to a car accident involving two young women. how to get a police report for a car accident
Two police officers responding to a car accident involving two young women. how to get a police report for a car accident

One of the things you may need to know after getting involved in a car crash is how to get a police report for a car accident. You will need to request a police officer to come to the accident scene if none are present. To do this, you must call 911 to ask first responders and law enforcement operating in Peoria or Chicago, Illinois, to be dispatched to the scene.

Police reports help determine fault and liability, facilitate insurance claim processing, and allow disputes resolution in car accident claims. As such, Illinois law requires police officers to investigate and file complete and unbiased auto collision reports. The police must go to the accident scene and investigate the events leading to the crash before compiling the report.

The Importance of a Police Report in a Car Accident Case

Responding police officers start by investigating the car accident. They then prepare a report that captures the details of the accident. They prepare this report after leaving the accident scene. The report may include the following details:

  • Names of vehicle operators or owners
  • Witness names, if any, present at the scene
  • Make, model, and VIN of the motor vehicles
  • Possible causes of the accident
  • Insurers of motorists involved and possible fault determinations
  • Traffic court dates for any citations

Some benefits of the report in an accident case include the following:

Insurance Claim Processing

Car accident claims are more likely to be resolved with a settlement agreement between the accident victim and the insurer. Insurers will ask to see the police report to help determine fault.

While you can file a claim with an insurance provider without a police report, having one can help prove that the accident was valid. The insurance claim will serve as a formal request you make to an insurer for compensation/coverage for a covered loss or policy event. Afterward, the insurer will validate the claim and only issue payment to the approved interested or insured party.

Help Pursue Personal Injury Lawsuits

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person brings a civil action to the entity or person responsible for his or her injuries. The duty to exercise reasonable care, failure to exercise reasonable care, and actual damages are elements of an injury suit. The lawsuit usually seeks to recover compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

You may pursue a personal injury lawsuit if you fail to reach a settlement with an insurer for your injuries or losses. As such, your car accident claim will go through the Illinois court system, which typically starts with the discovery stage. Since the discovery stage allows attorneys representing both sides to exchange information and evidence and investigate the case more, a police report can form part of the evidence.

If you are pursuing a car accident lawsuit for your losses or damages, you may want to know what your case is worth. It is hard to estimate the value of your case at the start, since some crucial details and pieces of evidence may be missing. But as the case advances, your lawyer can give you an estimate of the amount you can recover through a settlement or a lawsuit.

Victim and Liable Party Identification

Victims in an accident on the road refer to persons who sustain injuries or get killed. In an accident claim, the victim brings a claim against the responsible party. Victims can be drivers, road users, passengers, or traffic police officers.

From the police report, it's easy to tell who operated or owned the vehicles. If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident or an accident with a taxi, you can use the report to identify the person who hit you. Witnesses are also listed in this report to help corroborate the events leading to the incident.

Police officers at the accident scene talk to people, write notes, take photos, and measure distances before preparing a police report, which can be submitted to court during a car accident lawsuit. The documents help defendants and plaintiffs explain what happened at the accident scene.

Helps Determine if There Are Grounds for a Car Accident Lawsuit

Before a car accident trial begins, the case will go through a process known as formal discovery. The plaintiff will have brought a complaint against the defendant at this stage. Both parties must share information, such as police reports, regarding the case.

The parties may agree to settle if the defendant does not find it reasonable for the case to go to trial. Assessments from the information they exchanged in the discovery stage can help them make this decision. The case will head to trial if they fail to settle.

Forms the Basis for Interrogatories

Interrogatories are essential in the car accident lawsuit process. Interrogatories are usually in the form of written questions both parties send to each other. They can help you gather evidence to use when arguing your case.

Some questions that form part of the interrogatories are from the police report. They may focus on the information about witnesses or other parties linked to the lawsuit. Take the questions seriously, as you must answer them under oath within a given deadline.

Your car accident attorney will investigate your case and assemble the evidence required to establish the other motorist’s liability. The evidence must also give the scope and extent of the losses and damages. Pieces of evidence that can help determine liability include police reports, dash cam footage, and witness statements.

How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident

An Illinois law enforcement officer must arrive at the accident scene before issuing a police report. So, ask one to be dispatched to the accident scene with a first responder, like an emergency medical services provider. Ensure that you and your passengers are safe before making the 911 call.

Your options to check on a police report for an accident in Peoria or Chicago, Illinois, are limited. You can contact the police and report the accident or get a copy at the accident scene. It's also possible to get a copy of the report later if you were not stable enough to call 911 at the time of the accident.

Contacting the Police and Reporting the Accident

Illinois law requires drivers to file a crash report when an accident results in bodily injury or death. The law also mandates them to do so for accidents that cause over $1,500 in property damage if the drivers have insurance and $500 if any driver lacks insurance.

You can only request a police report once a crash report is filed. The best place to get the traffic crash report is E-Pay on the Illinois State Police website. Note that this service has a fee.

The crash must meet certain conditions for the crash report to be processed. These conditions include crashes on an Illinois Tollway or an interstate. The crash must have also occurred on a U.S. or Illinois Route.

Reports for crashes on a Chicago Metro area freeway are filed in person. That said, motorists must exchange information and offer proof of liability insurance at the accident scene.

Getting a Copy at the Accident Scene

Your treatment and future recovery after getting injured in a car accident depends on your immediate action. As such, you should contact the local police department and alert emergency medical services after getting injured in an accident.

Ensure your narration of events leading to the accident is well captured in the accident report. Your story should be factual to avoid getting into legal trouble. Be careful not to admit fault when speaking to police officers.

Ask the officers for their full names and badge numbers before they exit the scene.

Getting a Copy at a Later Date

Use the officers’ identifying formation you obtained earlier to request a copy of a police report. You can ask them for the incident report number if it's available.

It's possible to file the report if you sustained no injuries and the police failed to show up at the crash scene. However, you will have up to ten days from the day the accident occurred to do this. You can file this report with the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT).

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.