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Why is there no police report for my car accident?

Picture of woman in pain after a car accident talking to the police. Mercado Kramer's personal injury attorneys explain why the police may not make a report.

As personal injury attorneys, here’s a scenario that we see a lot: You’re in a car accident. You stop, exchange information with the other driver, and call 911. A police officer comes by the accident scene and checks in briefly. You want to get home because the accident is stressful and overwhelming. Later, you call the police department or California Highway Patrol to get the official report about your accident. But the police tell you that they did not make a report.

Why didn’t the police make a report?

The most common reason that police do not make a report for an accident is because no injuries were officially reported. Another reason is when the accident happened on private property, such as in a parking lot. If no one reports an injury, many police departments will simply tell the drivers to exchange insurance and contact information. Sometimes, the police will not make a report unless one of the people in the accident took an ambulance. Police departments and California Highway Patrol will tell you that they do this to make the best use of limited officers and resources. The police in Salinas and San Jose, where Mercado Kramer LLP has offices, both follow this policy.

The issue for many car accident victims is that they may not realize immediately that they are injured right away. At the scene of a wreck, your focus might be on your damaged car and the stress of being stuck at a busy intersection. When a wreck happens, it can trigger your fight-or-flight instinct and give you a rush of adrenalin. Adrenalin can mask pain. You might be stunned or foggy-headed. Many injuries, such as whiplash, may intensify in pain in the hours or even days after a collision. So they don’t report a serious injury, and the police don’t make a report.

Police reports can provide crucial information. An investigating officer may take pictures of the accident scene, marks and debris on the roadway, and other evidence. They take detailed witness statements and get witness contact information. They survey the weather, the point of impact, the conditions of the road, and many other factors. The police officer will write their opinion about the cause of the accident. While the police officer’s word on who is at fault is not the final word (sometimes police reports are wrong!), it is still an important part of a case.

If you were in a wreck and there was no police report made, you can contact the local police or California Highway Patrol and ask to make a report of the accident. It’s important to do this within 24 hours of the wreck if possible. When you make a report yourself, the police will take down your statement about what happened. They most likely will not do any independent investigation. But your self-report can still be useful to a personal injury case.

When you’re in a car accident, take the time to scan your body and check yourself for potential injury, and be sure to report your injuries to the police. This information also applies if you are in an accident involving a vehicle while riding a bicycle or as a pedestrian.

This blog provides general information only and is not legal advice. Call our car accident attorneys today at 888 311-4050 to speak to an attorney at no cost about your specific situation. Mercado Kramer LLP represents clients across California.





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