Can You File a Lawsuit Without a Police Report?
Is It Possible? Here’s What We Know!
Picture this: you and your family go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. You have a fantastic meal, pay your bill, and when you’re walking back to the car, you notice that someone who parked next to you came in a little too hot.
Now, you’re left with a banged-up bumper and a totally demolished taillight. As anybody would do after seeing this, you take out your phone and you call the police. To your surprise, because the accident is deemed ‘minor’ and there are no injuries, the police declined to respond to the scene.
So you’re left with a parking lot accident, with no police report, and damage to your car that you need to be repaired. What do you do?
What Do I Do? Can I File a Claim Anyway?
The short answer is: yes.
The long answer is far more complex. Let’s dive into it!
First, not obtaining a police report does not totally eliminate the legal process if/when looking to pursue a motor vehicle accident lawsuit
With that said, they do hold value. Not only can a police report help to provide credibility to your claim, and help expedite the overall process, it also works to provide a more objective view of the motor vehicle accident. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to prove fault if/when it’s your word versus the other motorist, so having the clarity a police report provides is a bit of extra help.
The main reason why you can file a claim without a police report is that in most states (but not all, see below) across the U.S., police reports are inadmissible in the eyes of the law. Here’s a breakdown for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia:
North Carolina is one of the states where a police report is actually admissible. Courts in North Carolina have long held that accident reports are admissible, both under the hearsay exception for business records as well as underneath the exception for public records.
In South Carolina, the civil court system decides who should receive compensation for things like injuries and damage. A police officer in South Carolina may be allowed to testify in court as to what happened, but he is not permitted to specify an opinion on fault.
Finally, in Virginia, the law is a little bit more black and white here. Police reports are inadmissible because they are technically considered to be hearsay.
Police reports are akin to a third-party witness looking at the motor vehicle accident itself. The officer may or may not have seen the accident, so there’s always a 50% chance that they’re able to testify as a first-hand witness. The report itself does not legitimize nor delegitimize any of the damagers that took place. It’s really just a report of facts – what happened at the scene – that said, if you have the opportunity to report an accident, it’s always best to do so.
Our Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Take the Burden Off Your Shoulders!
An experienced car accident attorney recognizes that although an accident can occur within seconds, the serious injuries, pain, disability, and financial losses that result can last a lifetime. Every year, innocent victims are severely injured and sometimes killed in automobile accidents caused by negligent and reckless drivers.
Before you agree to a settlement with an insurance company, obtain knowledgeable legal advice from hard-fighting car accident lawyers at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban. We understand how important it is to ensure that you are compensated for both today and tomorrow, and we are ready to stand up for your rights.
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