If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you’ve probably filed an accident report with the police. Even if you haven’t, chances are you’ve heard about accident reports at some point.
Some people understandably don’t want to involve the police if they get into an accident. However, accident reports are incredibly important in the state of Washington — not just to the insurance claims process, but also to your attorney if you want to recover damages in court.
In this blog post, experienced car accident attorney Bill Gilbert will go over everything you need to know about how to file an accident report in Washington, and how having an accident report will help you recover damages down the road.
Filing a report after an accident in Washington
The first thing you should do after getting into a car accident is to pull your car over to a safe place if necessary, and call for emergency help if anyone is injured.
After you’ve done that, you should think about calling the police to file a report. A police report will record information like where and when the crash occurred, any injuries or property damage, and, often, who the officer thinks is at fault for the accident.
Dealing with the police can be stressful, so here are a few tips on filing a police report from our team at Gilbert Law Firm:
- Remain calm and be cooperative: tell the officer what happened in as much detail as you can, and answer the officer’s questions to the best of your ability.
- Remember that injuries related to traffic crashes are not always immediately recognized. When you’ve had a traumatic experience, it can be hard to fully relay exactly how you’re doing. It’s okay to say you don’t know how you are, or that you’re feeling pain or discomfort. If you say “I’m fine,” “I’m not hurt at all,” or “I’m okay,” when you’re really not “okay”, this can be used against you in any civil action filed after the fact to recover damages resulting from the crash.
Washington law requires you to report your accident to the Department of Transportation if any of the following occurs:
- Property damage exceeding $700
Usually, local police or sheriffs who arrive at the scene to write a report will send that report to the Washington DOT. But if the police are busy, they might not show up, and you may have to file the report yourself. Follow this link to file a collision report.
Accessing your accident report
Once your police report is filed, you can move on to reporting the accident to your insurance company. If you want your insurance company to cover any of the damage to your car, they’re going to request a copy of the police report from the Washington DOT.
There are two ways to access a copy yourself. You could request a copy from your insurance company, who will probably give it to you for free.
If that doesn’t work, or if you don’t have insurance, you can request a copy of your report from the Washington State Patrol. Here’s how:
- Visit this link.
- Click on the WRECR link
- Provide the name of the involved party(s), the date of the collision, and select “Search”
- If a report is found matching your request; it will be displayed
- You will have to pay a fee of $10.50 to complete your request
Why are accident reports important?
In the event that you don’t get the insurance coverage that you need, you may need to take your case to court. That’s where a car accident attorney like those on our team at Gilbert Law Firm can come in.
We can use your accident report in some of the following ways to advance your case:
- Use the officer’s judgment of fault at the scene to argue that the other driver was responsible for the crash
- Use the report’s statement of the events of the crash to corroborate your side of the story
- Show that you were in a clear state of mind after the accident
- Show that you took all the necessary steps after the accident to mitigate your damages
Contact a car accident attorney in Spokane
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, just as important as filing a police report is contacting an attorney with experience representing victims of car accidents.
At Gilbert Law Firm, our priority is genuine, honest representation that gets you the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.