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Filling Out an Accident Report: The Steps You Need to Follow

Receiving compensation for your damages after a traffic accident involves a little more than simply alerting the insurance company. As the accident victim, the burden of proof is on you, and this means showing that an accident occurred and it’s directly responsible for your damages. 

To prove you’re involved in an accident, you’ll need to submit a report to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. You’ll need to follow the steps for filling out an accident report, and you don’t want to make any mistakes—even the slightest error can negatively impact a personal injury claim.

Do You Need to Report All Vehicle Accidents in Texas?

Ideally, if you’re involved in a vehicle collision all involved drivers remain on the scene until the authorities arrive. When that happens, responding officers take care of filling out the accident report. All you have to do is answer the officers’ questions and wait a few days to pick up the report.

However, Texas law doesn’t require you to immediately report all traffic accidents. For example, if another driver taps your bumper backing out of a parking spot, you both can probably skip calling the police. You simply exchange insurance and contact information with the at-fault driver, and you both can go about your day without any legal repercussions.

So, when is it legal to skip alerting the authorities? If property damage is under $1,000, all involved vehicles are drivable, and no injuries or fatalities are present, you aren’t required to report the vehicle accident.

If you’re planning on filing an insurance claim for any damages sustained in the accident, you’ll need to submit a copy of the official accident report. You have ten days from the date of the accident to file a police report. You can file the report online or head down to the police department. 

Which police department should you go to? You can usually go to the nearest department or substation but you may want to call ahead. There’s a chance you may need to go to the department that has jurisdiction in the area where the accident occurred.

Steps for Filling Out an Accident Report

When you’re ready to fill out the accident report, be prepared to see more than a couple of pages. An accident report typically contains a lot of information about the incident. 

If you’re a little fuzzy on some details, just do the best you can. However, only include factual information in your accident report. The last thing you need after being in a vehicle accident is to face a charge of filing a false report.

Provide Basic Information

In this section, you’ll provide the names and addresses of all drivers involved in the accident. If there are any witnesses, you also want to include their contact information. You’ll also list the accident date and its location.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure of the street address. You can describe the location. For example, the parking lot of the HEB on West Rd. You may also want to try a quick online search if your accident occurs in a parking lot. Most businesses have an online presence that includes listing their physical address.

Describe How the Accident Occurred

When you get to this section, you want to provide details about how the accident occurred. If your vehicle was tapped by another driver backing out of a parking spot, write down these details. You should also include information about your activities leading up to the accident.

Using the parking lot example, you may want to describe why your vehicle was stopped behind the reversing car. The more information you can provide, the easier it often is to prove your injury claim.

Vehicle Information

Hopefully, you’re able to get information about any vehicles involved in the accident. If you exchanged insurance information, this section should be relatively easy to fill out even if you can’t remember the color of the other vehicle. A quick call to the at-fault driver’s insurance company should give you the details you need.

You’ll need to list the vehicle’s make, model, year, and license plate number, and this also includes your vehicle. Remember, your vehicle was also involved in the accident.

Resulting Damages

Since you’re filling out the report and not the responding officers, you aren’t listing any injuries. If injuries are present in a vehicle accident, you must wait on the scene until the authorities arrive.

You can list your property damage on the accident report, and don’t forget that if the damage is over $1,000, you’re legally required to report the incident immediately. In other words, you can’t wait a week or so after the event. The accident must be reported when it occurs.

Draw a Diagram

Okay, your accident report has a section where you draw a rough diagram of the accident scene; this section you may want to skip. Accurately drawing the positions of all involved vehicles is tricky, even for a talented artist.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company will receive a copy of the accident report, and you don’t want the insurance company to point out any inaccuracies or errors in your drawing. The law doesn’t require you to provide any information that can potentially be used against you.

Sign, Date, and Submit the Form

The accident form has places for all involved drivers to sign and date. Since you’re filling out the form after the accident, don’t worry about getting anyone else’s signature. 

Just sign and date the form, review it for any mistakes, and submit the report to the authorities. If you’re filling out the form online, you click on the submit tab.

When Can You Get a Copy of Your Accident Report?

Most accident reports, whether filed at the scene or afterward, are ready for pick-up in about ten business days. 

There is a small fee to obtain a copy, usually around $10. Once you have your accident report, you can begin the personal injury claim process. This is also an ideal time to contact an injury attorney to help with your case. 

Negotiating with the insurance company can be tricky, and an attorney can help ensure you receive adequate compensation. Their expertise can make all the difference in achieving a fair settlement for your injuries and losses.

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