Nobody ever wakes up and says to themselves, “Wow, I’d really like to be in an auto accident today,” but that doesn’t mean car crashes never happen. They are simply a reality of driving a motor vehicle in this modern age. Although accidents are never fun to think about happening, it’s important that you know what to do when you’re in one — just in case tragedy strikes.
If you read our comprehensive guide to what you should do and document after a car accident, you know that the number of car crashes in Illinois is nothing short of alarming. Even more alarming to us at Friend, Levinson, & Turner, LTD, is the fact that many people involved in these car crashes don’t understand the process of filing a police report. We cannot stress how important it is to know how and when police reports are filed, especially since there are state laws at play and you could be hit with a fine or jail time if you don’t comply (even due to a lack of knowledge).
The first thing you need to know about filing a police report is that timing matters. Here at Friend, Levinson, & Turner, LTD, we always recommend that the first thing you should do after an accident occurs is call 9-1-1. When you call the police and let them know you’ve been in a crash, they will send a responding officer to the scene. That responding officer will collect vital pieces of personal information from the parties involved, driver statements, vehicle damages, witness contact information, injuries noted at the scene, and a diagram of the accident scene. The responding officer then uses the information they’ve collected to file an accident report automatically. So, in other words, if you call the police and they respond to the scene of the accident, you won’t have to do any extra work to file the report. In turn, you won’t have to worry about being out-of-compliance with state laws regarding police reports.
We never recommend this, but if the police are not called after an auto accident and there is no responding officer to file the report, you’ll need to make sure you file one yourself as soon as possible after the accident. If you go this route, you’ll need to collect the following after the accident:
- Pictures of the accident scene and the cars involved in the incident (make sure
- those photos include make, model, and license plates of the vehicles)
- Phone recordings of any witness statements
- Video surveillance footage from cameras that you see near the scene of the accident
The second thing you should do is get all of the individuals involved in the accident to agree to go from the accident scene to the police department to file a police report together. Just to be safe, before leaving the scene, collect the personal information from all of the drivers involved. This should include photographs of drivers licenses, telephone numbers, and insurance carrier information.
If you do not call the police or go to the police station right after the accident, you should be aware of the laws governing filing a police report. Under Illinois state laws, a car accident report must be filed if the accident causes death of bodily injury or results in more than $1500 in property damage. Additionally, the report must be filed with the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) within 10 days of the accident. If you don’t meet these requirements, you might face fines and penalties, jail time, or a license suspension. Remember, if you call the police after the accident and they report to the scene, you won’t have to worry about these laws since the responding officer will file a report automatically.
Here at Friend, Levinson & Turner, LTD, we understand that auto accidents are often emotional and stressful to think about, but they are a reality for many people in Illinois. Our goal is to make sure you are ready to take control if the unthinkable does happen. Being prepared ahead of time for the worst will leave you better equipped to deal with the accident in the moment, so be sure to also check out our comprehensive guide to what you should do/document after an auto accident.
If you or a loved one is injured or a victim of an unsafe product or the negligence of others, please call my office at 312-346-8465 or contact us using the form below.