Police Reports from Virginia Car Accidents
As a Virginia personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, is on a regular basis ordering police reports from the car accidents where our clients have been hurt. Usually is takes several business days after a car wreck has occurred for the police report to be ready. Getting the police report at the beginning of the injury case is important to make sure that the case gets started the right way with the necessary information both about the actual driver but also about the accident location and basic facts of the collision. The police officer’s write up of what happened is usually presumed to be correct by both the insurance companies and by the attorneys involved so it’s an important piece of the proof of liability to see what information the police officer collected from their investigation of the crash.
One thing that I know as a personal injury litigator in the Hampton Roads area for decades is where to order the police report from. This sounds simpler than it is. First you have to know which police department was the responding police department or law enforcement agency. On interstate highways like Interstate 264 running from Norfolk to the oceanfront in Virginia Beach or on Interstate 64 from Chesapeake to Newport News, the Virginia State Police are the law enforcement officers who patrol, give citations and handle wrecks that happen on those highways.
On the secondary roads within a given city in Tidewater whether Suffolk, Portsmouth, or Hampton it is the city police department who responds to wrecks on city streets. There’s also the question these days about whether the police report is available on line or only in paper version. Our staff at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers deals with these issues on a daily basis and are ready to efficiently help collect the necessary information to prove and win a fair settlement or verdict in any personal injury matter arising out of an automobile accident.
Sometimes the information on the police report is not correct or is less clear or detailed than necessary in order to answer the questions that arise in the case. In those circumstances I as a personal injury attorney can request an interview of the state trooper or the city police officer. Sometimes it can be a little inconvenient because the police department may require that you request permission through the chief of police and you have to get the officer on a day that’s convenient to them.
However in any kind of complicated case or a case that seems likely to go to full litigation we commonly will get in touch with the police officer to find out what more information they may have beyond their police report. For example, sometimes officers will have handwritten notes or statements that go beyond the police report that’s on file. Sometimes these notes will not be kept beyond a certain period of time and so should be requested early on in the case under appropriate circumstances. When there’s been a fatality involved then the police reports typically are much more detailed and much more forensic information is made available including photography. Sometimes the investigative file will be withheld by the police and the prosecutors during the prosecution of any criminal or traffic charges associated with the wreck and injury. In those cases we will simply monitor the traffic or criminal court and get all the information once that matter is resolved.
Typically when a new client contacts us for an appointment within a day or so of an accident in Virginia with injuries we will ask them to bring in the police exchange-of-information sheet. This is typically a half of sheet of paper sized document that the police officer will give you at the scene of a wreck where there is more than $2,000.00 worth of property damage or reported injuries. The exchange sheet will have information about the other driver and their insurance information. We need this information as soon as possible at the beginning of the case in order to properly put the insurance company for the negligent driver on notice of your injury claim.
If you need to talk to a personal injury lawyer to discuss an accident with injuries, call us at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.