Do I Need a Police Report to File an Injury Claim?

A staggering 382 deaths were reported on Nevada roads in 2022, an 18% increase from two years prior.  Although it may seem obvious to file a police report when fatalities occur, there is confusion among the public if a police report should always be taken.

The Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at Cloward Trial Lawyers would like to review Nevada law on motor vehicle accidents and the benefits of having a police report filed for your personal injury claim.

What is a Police Report?

A police report is a written document that compiles the identifying factors in an accident. It summarizes the important facts of an accident and may be used by the victim of the crash in making an insurance claim.

In order to file a report, you may need the following information:

  • Date, time, and location of the crash;
  • Witness personal identifying information and physical description;
  • License plate state/number, vehicle identification number (VIN);
  • Description of the crash;
  • Estimate of repairs; and
  • Doctor’s statement of each individual injured in the crash.

Police reports are most commonly filed in car accidents. A traffic crash report will include a written narrative by the responding police official describing the scene of the accident. It will often detail road conditions and describe where traffic signals are situated.

A police report can be the glue tying all the puzzle pieces together. Although you can technically file a personal injury claim without a police report, it will make it more difficult to settle with the insurance company.

Nevada Law on Automobile Accidents

According to Nevada law, a driver who is involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any persons and any property damage is required to:

  • Give his or her contact information to anyone involved in the crash upon request;
  • Give the vehicle registration number to anyone involved in the crash upon request;
  • Render reasonable assistance to anyone that is injured;
  • Contact 911 if needed;
  • Surrender his or her driver’s license to police authority; and
  • If no police officer is present, contact a police authority or the Nevada Highway Patrol

Will the Police Respond to My Accident?

The Las Vegas Police Department no longer visits an accident scene if there are no reported injuries or nobody was killed. Albeit, Nevada law mandates that you fill out a Report of Traffic Crash (SR-1) if:

  • anyone was injured or killed, or;
  • if there is an estimated $750 of repairs or loss to any vehicles or property.

Following a car crash, Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 484E.070) stipulates that:

  • For damaged vehicles: the operator shall attach to the crash report an estimate of repairs or a statement of the total loss
  • The DMV may require the driver or owner of the vehicle to prove supplemental documentation when the original report is insufficient
  • A report is not required from any person if the crash was investigated by a police officer and the report of the investigating officer contains:
    • The name and address of the insurance company providing coverage to each person involved in the crash;
    • The number of each policy; and
    • The dates on which the coverage begins and ends.

Any reports that do not meet the requirements of Nevada law will be returned. If the DMV requests a completed form and you fail to remit it, the DMV may suspend your license for up to one year.

If a police officer arrives on the scene, he or she will complete a crash report. You will not have to file a separate report. The report must be submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the accident.

Benefits of Filing a Report

Documenting your injuries is key to recovering relief for your injuries. If there is no formal documentation of the accident, you have lowered your chances of negotiating a just settlement.

A police report will include details behind the circumstances of the accident, including the extent of both parties’ injuries and any visible damage to vehicles. Based on this evidence, the police will surmise who they believe was responsible for the collision.

If you sustained injuries, seek medical care immediately. Insurers will most likely want to see a police report. A report prepared by law enforcement will document your injuries and make it easier to get compensated.

Another bonus: the police report is an unbiased third party, so it will hold more weight than your word alone.

How Do I Get a Copy of the Police Report?

You can get a copy of the police report in the following ways:

  • Online
  • In-Person
  • By Mail

For both Traffic Collision Reports and Incident Reports, there is an $11.00 non-refundable fee. After a report is filed, it may take up to 10 days before the report is available.

In order to access the report, you must present valid photo identification.

Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • State ID, Real ID, or driver’s license issued by the DMV
  • United States Passport
  • Passports issued by other countries
  • Permanent Resident Alien Registration Card
  • Military ID
  • Consulate Matricula Identification Card

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim?

According to NRS 11.190, a claimant has two years to pursue legal action to recover damages for injury or death to a person that was caused by another’s neglect or wrongful actions.

It does not matter whether or not a police report was filed. All Nevada personal injury claims must be filed within a two-year time period.

The reason? There is a better probability that evidence will stay preserved if an injury claim is pursued within two years.

If there were eyewitnesses at the accident scene, their memory of the events would be clearer if a lawsuit took place in a timely fashion. Besides a witness’s memory fading, DNA evidence is also known to fade over time.

How is Fault Determined?

In a car accident claim, an insurance investigation will determine who was at fault. There are different types of liability, but in car accidents, the liable party is usually negligent.

Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in performing a task. All drivers have an obligation to use reasonable care on the road.

Negligence can be broken down into four elements:

  • Duty of care: every driver has a duty to use proper care while operating his or her vehicle
  • Breach of care: if a driver breaks a traffic law, he or she is violating that standard of care owed to others
  • Damages: the injury to the victim was a foreseeable consequence of the at-fault driver’s actions
  • Causation: as a result of the at-fault driver’s actions, the victim has suffered injuries and has measurable losses

In deciding liability, a claims adjuster has the task of combing through every piece of evidence. Any photographs, video surveillance, or witness testimony taken at the scene will help the adjuster to piece together exactly what took place.

Police Report Inaccuracies

When you do get a copy of the report, you should examine it to determine if the officer’s account matches your recollection of the incident. Any errors or omissions on the report may end up taking liability away from the other driver.

Even small details matter. For example, a rear driver violates Nevada law if he or she fails to dim high-beam headlights within 300 feet at night. If the responding police officer states that the rear driver had the vehicle’s low beams on (when, in fact, high beam headlights were being used), it may be worthwhile correcting this information.

A Las Vegas car accident lawyer will help you in reviewing the police officer’s crash report to find any inaccuracies or omissions.

A Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer Putting You First

This may be the third or fourth accident report of the police officer responding to your car crash. At Cloward Trial Lawyers, we give every personal injury case the attention it needs. We do not believe that any case is cut and dry. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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9950 W Cheyenne Ave Las Vegas, NV 89129

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