A police report is an important tool in any car accident lawsuit. The police report ensures that police responded to the scene, and those officers may be able to testify about the aftermath of the crash and produce pictures they took of the scene. Going to court without a police report makes your case a bit more difficult, but it may not be too late to report the accident and fulfill legal duties to report your case. Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak can help if you were injured in a car accident in Arkansas. Call today for a free consultation on your case.
Do I Need a Police Report for My Arkansas Car Accident Case?
In Arkansas, it is rare for car accident injury lawsuits to go forward without a police report. If you were seriously injured, it is likely that you called 9-1-1 for an ambulance, and it is common for police to respond to these calls as well. In addition, any fatal car accidents or crashes involving personal injury or at least $1,000 in property damage must be reported. The Arkansas State Police keep records and reports of all serious car and truck accidents. Since even minor crashes can produce injuries and damage totaling more than $1,000, you should report every car accident to the police.
If you didn’t call police at the scene of the accident, it might not be too late to file a car accident report to satisfy your duty to report the crash. Arkansas law allows you up to 30 days to report the accident. This gives you time to go to the hospital, get your injuries treated, talk to an attorney, and get your report filed. If you are incapacitated from your injuries and need more than 30 days to submit the form, this deadline is usually waived.
Arkansas Motor Vehicle Accident Report Form SR-1 can be found online, and you can submit this by mail, in person, or by e-mail. The form requires biographical info for all drivers involved and the owner of each vehicle. It also requires info about the cars (make, model, license plate number, etc.), location of the accident, cost of damages, names of injured people, etc. The form also comes with another form, a Verification of Liability Insurance Form SR-21, which your insurance company needs to submit to prove you have insurance.
You usually need to submit this form even if police responded to the scene of the crash and filed their own report. This form may not become valuable evidence in court, but it does still help you fulfill your legal duties.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit Without a Police Report
When you take your case to court, a police report usually cannot be used as evidence. However, a police report is still extremely valuable for your attorney. The official report of a police officer provides information about everyone involved in the crash, any witnesses that stayed to speak to police, and the police officers who responded. The report may also contain pictures which can be used as evidence in court. The police report is often an important cornerstone in building the case, but the information contained in the report cannot be used as evidence.
Evidence allowed at trial must follow the Rules of Evidence. One important rule in any trial is the rule against “hearsay.” Any statements made out of court cannot be used as evidence in court to prove that what the statements say is true. Police reports are secondhand information recorded to keep a record of the accident. You cannot use the statements in the report as proof of where the accident occurred, who was involved, what cars were involved, etc. However, you can use the testimony of the officer who created it and the people mentioned in the report.
If a police officer responded to the scene, you may call them as a witness in your case. In addition, any other witnesses, passengers, or other drivers listed on the report can also be called as witnesses. These people can testify to what they saw, including any part of the crash they witnessed, any statements they heard in the shock of the crash’s aftermath, anything the other driver said, and any damage and injuries they saw.
Since the police report cannot be used as evidence, you don’t lose evidence by not having a report. If you diligently collect information at the scene of the crash, you would still be able to contact witnesses and passengers to call them as witnesses. You may miss out on having an authoritative witness like a police officer, but if you have your own photos of the scene to rely on, you can still build a strong case.
Fayetteville Car Accident Injury Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you don’t have a police report, do not assume your case is over. Much of the information in a police report simply helps you find other evidence – something you can still do without a police report. You may still need to report your case to the government, but you can still sue without a police report in Arkansas. Talk to an Arkansas personal injury lawyer about building your case today. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, offers free consultations on car crash cases. Call (479) 439-1843 today to schedule your consultation.