No matter how safe you are, driving always carries inherent risks. In 2020, records show there were over 115,600 total motor vehicle accidents in Wisconsin, resulting in 540 fatalities and over 23,000 injuries. Residents of the Milwaukee area are no stranger to these accidents, with 78 traffic fatalities occurring in their Southeastern city of Wisconsin. Of those, all but eight were attributed to reckless driving.
If you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident you’ll most likely want to get a police report, especially if you’ve sustained an injury. In this post, we’ll explain exactly how to get a car accident police report in Wisconsin and how a Milwaukee personal injury lawyer can help.
What is a Wisconsin Accident Report?
When a serious accident occurs, or even with some minor ones, law enforcement is often called or dispatched to the scene.
When an officer gets to the scene of a crash, they’ll prepare an accident report. An accident report is a document containing a variety of information including things like:
- The officer’s comments on the incident, such as a brief description of the damage done.
- Information about all parties involved like phone numbers, addresses, drivers license number, etc.
- Details about the crash such as when and where it happened.
- Information from eye witnesses, if any were there when the crash occurred.
How to get a car accident police report in Wisconsin
A copy of Wisconsin accident reports can be obtained in a variety of ways:
- You can get your accident report by contacting your local law enforcement agency and providing the report retrieval number. This is a number you may have received from the officer at the scene of the accident, either in the form of a paper receipt or some other way.
- If you don’t have the report retrieval number, but you know the type of officer who responded to the scene, (e.g. county sheriff, state police, etc.), you can call their department directly. Call their non-emergency number and ask for a copy of the accident report. You can provide information such as the time, date and place the accident occurred and get a report this way. You might also try to find the form online through an online request system.
- Finally, your insurance company will obtain a copy of the report themselves, so you can typically contact them and request a copy from your adjuster. However, insurance providers can be very slow once you need them.
How Can a Police Report Help Your Personal Injury Case?
Sometimes the information in an accident report reveals that one of the drivers involved was at fault. For example, if one of the drivers was cited for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If this is the case, this extra information is likely to push at least one side towards settling the dispute.
Are Police Reports Admissible in Court?
No, police reports aren’t admissible in court, as they’re generally considered to be hearsay. This is because in all but the most rare cases, the police officer making the report didn’t witness the accident directly. Some small claims courts will let you use your report to present your side of the case, as an exception to this rule.
While you can’t use a police report in court, that doesn’t mean they’re not helpful. If a police report notes that one driver was cited for a specific reason, it can be very persuasive for reaching out-of-court settlements. Additionally, after reviewing the accident report and finding that the other driver was under the influence, your lawyer may be able to use the other driver’s arrest for driving under the influence as evidence in court.
Do I need a police report for an insurance claim?
You don’t need a police report for an insurance claim. If the police didn’t respond to your crash, you’re required to make a Driver Report of Accident in Wisconsin within 10 days of the incident. By law, any accident that happens in the state resulting in $1,000 or more in damages needs to be reported to the police within this time frame.
In some cases, having a police report can help speed up your claims process, but not always.
Can a police officer change a police report?
Sometimes a slip up occurs and a bit of the information in your police report may be inaccurate. For example, the officer might have written down the wrong date or spelled the names of those involved incorrectly.
An officer will often be open to amending factual errors such as:
- Incorrect date or time
- Misspelled names
- Wrong intersection or location
It’s unlikely that they’ll change statements about the driver’s behavior or the cause of the accident.
How can a Milwaukee personal injury lawyer help your case?
For the thousands of individuals and families who are impacted by car crashes in Wisconsin every year, police accident reports can be a source of closure or grief. Injuries from a car accident can have reverberating effects on your life and livelihood.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the aftermath of a car crash in Wisconsin alone. A personal injury lawyer can review the police accident report, assess your case, and help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to. Navigating the complicated legal system and dealing with insurance companies are the last things you want to be occupied with during your recovery, and a personal injury attorney can help ease your burden by taking care of those things.
For a personal injury attorney who will give each case the personal attention and care it deserves, turn to Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel. With over 50 years of combined experience, you can trust that your case will be directly handled by attorneys who can get the results you deserve.
To learn more and see if you have a case, contact Pasternak and Zirgibel today for a free consultation.