The Police and Police Report- What you need to know after an accident STAFF PICK

Jon Mitchell Jackson

Written by

Personal Injury Lawyer

Contributor Level 14

Posted over 4 years ago. 5 helpful votes



What happens when the police arrive?

You will be asked to show a valid driver's license, current registration for your motor vehicle and, in many states, proof that the vehicle is insured. Answer the questions the police officer asks and try to remain calm.


What should I do if the other driver has been drinking?

If you notice the other driver appears intoxicated or smell alcohol on him or her, be sure to mention this fact to the investigating officer.


Do I have to be able to prove I was wearing my seat belt?

Make sure the police officer notes in the report that you were wearing your seat belt. You will probably be asked if you had it on as part of the report procedure. If you notice that the other driver was not wearing a seat belt, mention this to the investigating officer.


Anything else I should do?

Make a note of the investigating officer's name, badge number and whether he or she is a city police officer, highway patrol officer, or county sheriff deputy. Ask for a report, a case number, and where and when you can pick up a copy of the report. Be polite at all times.


Is there anything I should not do?

Do not admit fault for the accident to anyone. Do not tell anyone how much insurance you carry. Do not sign anything. Note: You will have to sign a citation if you are issued a traffic ticket by the investigating officer. This signature is not an admission of guilt; you are merely acknowledging that you received the ticket.


If the other driver gets a ticket does that mean that he or she caused the accident and has to pay for it?

No. The fact that the police officer issues a citation to the other driver does not assign blame for the accident. The investigating officer is only giving his opinion as to what happened and whose fault he or she thinks it was. The officer still has to convince a judge or jury that the ticket was justified if the driver does not plead guilty. The ticket has no bearing on your case. The same result occurs if you are ticketed; the ticket is not proof that you caused the accident.


How soon do I need to tell my insurance company that I have been in an accident?

You should notify your insurance carrier as soon as you can. The sooner they can begin processing your claim, the smoother the process can be. Be prepared to tell them the investigating officer's name and badge number, the report number and what happened.


Is there anything else I should expect?

You might be required to prove that you are financially responsible after you have been involved in an accident. You might have to submit proof of insurance coverage or proof that you have sufficient assets to cover any damage you might cause as a driver.


Call us with your questions or legal needs...

With more than two decades of experience, we're standing by to answer your legal questions. Give us a call and let's talk!

Additional Resources

More consumer info at and

How to handle the police at an accident

JW Law Blog- Good consumer info

Trial Lawyer Tips and More...

Rate this guide

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

28,058 answers this week

2,924 attorneys answering