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Should You File a Police Report After a Car Accident?


In Washington state, it’s a legal requirement to file a police report if a car accident results in a fatality or causes more than $1,000 in personal or property damage. This threshold might seem low, but even seemingly minor accidents can generate substantial medical bills and property damage. Filing a report not only ensures you comply with the law but also creates a documented record of the incident, which can be crucial when dealing with insurance claims.

Meeting Reporting Deadlines

After being involved in a car accident, you have a four-day window to file a report. You can obtain a paper report form from local law enforcement agencies, or you can submit a report online through the Washington State Patrol. If a police officer is present at the scene and creates a report, it may take two to four weeks before you can access it online.

It’s also crucial to seek medical attention within 72 hours of any injuries sustained during the accident. Waiting longer can lead the insurance company to question the seriousness of your injuries or their connection to the accident. Additionally, car accident claims must be filed with the insurance company within three years from the accident date; otherwise, you forfeit your right to make a claim.

What to Include in a Police Report

A police report filed after a car accident should contain essential information. This might encompass:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident.
  • A detailed account of how the accident occurred and the parties involved.
  • Information regarding traffic and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
  • Vehicle details, insurance information, registration, and contact details for all parties involved.
  • Any personal injuries or fatalities stemming from the accident.
  • Property damage assessments.
  • Number of vehicles involved and their status (parked, in motion, occupied) at the time of the accident.
  • Information on the condition of all drivers involved, such as impairment or distraction.
  • Statements from involved parties and witnesses.

If a police officer arrives at the scene and files a report, you are generally not required to file a separate report. However, you can review the report’s status or dispute its contents through the Washington State Patrol. In the event you need to file a report yourself, ensure it includes all the mentioned elements.

Seek Legal Assistance After a Car Accident

The process of navigating accident claims and reports can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with serious injuries. The experienced Tacoma car accident lawyers at Alliance Law Group, PS, can provide the assistance you need to navigate the aftermath and ensure you receive the full settlement you are entitled to. Contact us at 253-581-0660 or online to request a consultation and gain further insights. Your rights and well-being deserve dedicated legal support.