Yes, you can file a car accident claim in Los Angeles without a police report. However, you will likely be at a disadvantage.
When most people refer to a “police report” in the context of a personal injury claim, they mean a Collision Report (CHP 190), which the police typically file after a car accident. California law requires either a driver or the police to file a Collision Report within 24 hours of a car accident that results in injury or more than $1,000 in property damage.
Why You Need To Call the Police After a Los Angeles, California, Car Accident
See below for a listing of the most common reasons why you should call the police to come to the scene of an accident, even after a fender bender.
Possible Latent Injuries or Property Damage
Not all injuries or property damage are immediately apparent after a car accident. Whiplash and traumatic brain injury, for example, are often symptom-free for hours or even days after an accident. Some types of automobile damage are also difficult to detect until time has elapsed after an accident.
The Police Are a Neutral Third Party
If the police issue the Collision Report, it is considered credible and is issued by a neutral third party. If you file a report yourself, the other driver is more likely to be able to successfully contest the claims you make. After all, it’s in your interest to slant the report in your favor. The police usually have no reason to twist the facts in favor of one party or another.
A Police Report Can Help You Establish Causation
If you receive medical treatment and you seek compensation for your expenses, the police report can help you establish that the accident took place immediately before your medical treatment. Without this, the insurance company might claim that the car accident did not cause your injuries.
A Collision Report Can Prevent the Other Driver From Changing Their Story After the Accident
If the police report tells one story and the accused driver tells another story, insurance companies tend to believe the police. An accused driver, realizing this, is unlikely to change their story after the fact if they know that a police-issued Collision Report will contradict them.
If Necessary, You Can File Your Own Police Report
If the accident injured anyone or caused more than $1,000 in property damage, California law requires a Collision Report. If the police come to the scene of the accident, they will file one. If they don’t, you should file one yourself within 24 hours of the accident. Although a Collision Report you file yourself will not be as persuasive as a Collision Report that the police file, it should be of some value.
If the Police Report Exists But You Don’t Have a Copy
If the police arrived at the scene of the accident and created a Collision Report, but you don’t have a copy of it, your problem is easy to fix. You can order one online or request one by mail.
Police Reports Are Usually Not Admissible in Court
Courts generally don’t accept Collision Reports as evidence because you cannot cross-examine a Collision Report. Instead, you can subpoena the police officer who wrote the report as a witness. Prior to trial, the officer will probably refresh their memory by re-reading a copy of their Collision Report.
If You Cannot Produce a Police Report
In California, insurance companies cannot deny your claim simply because you fail to produce a police report. You will have your work cut out for you, however. You will need to present credible evidence supporting your side of the story. Such evidence might include:
- Photographs of the scene of the accident, your injuries, or property damage;
- Your medical records;
- Your car repair bills;
- A CCTV video of the accident, if available;
- Information from your vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, if any; and
- Eyewitness testimony.
Other forms of evidence might also help you establish your claim. If the insurance company won’t issue an acceptable settlement offer, however, you will have to go to court with your claim.
A Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Win Even Without a Police Report
As long as the facts support you, your odds of winning a car accident personal injury claim are much better with a police report than without one. All is not necessarily lost, even if you don’t have a police report, however. A skilled lawyer can help you build your case nonetheless.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.