After a vehicle accident in Las Vegas, the first thing you should do, if you are able, is to call first responders. Even if you suffered minor to no injuries, you should still call the police. Nevada law requires calling the police in a car accident where anyone was killed or injured. But even if no one was killed or injured, calling the police is valuable to you because you can then obtain a police accident report from the Las Vegas police department.
The police accident report is valuable evidence, whether for use in settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or if you must file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer you a fair and reasonable settlement. A police accident report is often the most relied upon tool to recreate the accident for an insurance adjuster or a court. Read on to learn more about what a police accident report can provide and how it can help you recover compensation more quickly and easily.
Can You File an Insurance Claim for a Las Vegas Car Accident Without a Police Accident Report?
The short answer is, “Yes.” However, this may also depend on your insurance company, which may require a police accident report to file a claim. While the police accident report is not the only evidence that matters in determining what happened in a vehicle accident (further investigation sometimes shows police reports are wrong) it does establish some basic elements necessary to make a claim, such as that you and another driver were involved in an accident.
The police accident report may also include pictures of the damage to your vehicle and will note whether you incurred any injuries. The report also includes eye-witness statements. All of these things are valuable in making an insurance claim.
How a Police Accident Report HelpsYou
The police accident report has a lot of value beyond what you might collect by yourself after a Las Vegas car accident.
The report, gathered by an impartially trained third-party—the police officer—consolidates a lot of valuable information needed to file a claim, including:
- The names, contact information, and insurance information for anyone involved in the accident
- A description of the accident scene
- Photos of the accident scene
- Description of road conditions
- Witness contact information
- Witness statements
- Statements of the drivers involved
- Ticketing and arrest information for any ticketing or arrests made
- The driver’s license information for each driver involved, including a statement about whether a driver’s license was expired or revoked, or if a driver did not have a license.
You can request a copy of the police crash report online.
Filing an SR-1
Even if you decide to forgo calling the police to the scene of a Las Vegas vehicle accident, Nevada law still requires reporting a vehicle accident to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles through an SR-1 within 10 days of the accident. While an SR-1 does not initiate any type of claim recovery, it does notify authorities that you were in an accident and provides the information they need to investigate any potential crimes.
The SR-1 asks for information about you and the accident. You must also include a copy of your insurance card with the SR-1.
Additional information on the SR-1 includes:
- Date, time, and location of the wreck.
- Information about both vehicles and drivers involved in the wreck.
- Your insurance information.
- A description of the wreck.
- Repair estimate.
If you do not fill out the report properly and if you do not attach the required information, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will not process the report.
The Value of a Police Accident Report to Your Recovery, and Other Valuable Evidence
When you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit for damages against another person after a Las Vegas car accident, you must have proof of the other’s fault and that you suffered damages, including damage to health or personal property. An insurance company will not settle without proof, nor will a court order a defendant to pay damages without proof. A police accident report is often one of the most critical pieces of proof in these cases
Sources of Proof for Accident Injuries and Damages in a Las Vegas car accident
A police accident report is just one source of proof of fault that you were injured in an accident.
The following are some of the most important sources of proof:
- The police accident report. As noted, this report includes a lot of valuable information. The information is not only valuable evidence in itself, but it can also help you or your attorney continue the investigation of your case and potentially lead to additional evidence. If the police got something wrong in the report, or if witnesses have conflicting information, you or your attorney might want to hire a forensic investigator to recreate and further investigate the wreck.
- Your medical records. Not only do your medical records show the injuries you sustained in the wreck for which you should be compensated, but it is also an indication of any potential future medical expenses needed, and if the injuries suffered in the accident will prevent you from returning to work temporarily or permanently, both of which may contribute to the amount of your recovery.
- Your vehicle. Your vehicle itself can serve as evidence of what happened during the accident. Forensic crash investigators don’t just look at an accident scene and the police report. They also look at your vehicle and can tell how you were hit and at what approximate speed you were hit. This can help establish the other driver’s fault.
- Yourself. Photos of your injuries from the accident, along with your medical records, can help establish the severity of your injuries. Because injuries normally heal to some extent, and it later might be less apparent how severe they were, get photos as soon after an accident as possible.
- Photos of the accident scene. These photos are especially important as they may indicate damage to property, skid marks, and other evidence of the accident at the scene. If you are physically able, without doing additional damage to yourself, take photos of the scene. While the police will also provide photos, your photos could also help prove your case.
Recoverable Damages in a Las Vegas Vehicle Accident
“Damages” is the term for legally mandated compensation. You can recover three types of damages from those responsible for a car accident: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic and non-economic damages are referred to as compensatory damages, which means that the court orders them in an attempt to make a victim whole again. The court orders these damages to furnish compensation for tangible costs you incur from an emergency or future treatment of your injuries; lost wages; or to compensate you for other burdens the injuries create, such as loss of use of a bodily function, loss of quality of life, and loss of companionship or consortium.
A court only orders punitive damages in circumstances involving more egregious behavior by a defendant. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are used as punishment for grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior. Punitive damages determinations often require an additional stage in a trial.
Still have questions? A car accident lawyer can help you determine what compensation you should pursue, how much you can realistically seek, and evaluate any settlement offers you receive—all with a free initial consultation and on a contingency fee, which means you will pay nothing for the services an attorney provides until a settlement or verdict is reached.