After a car accident, there are a thousand things pulling your attention in multiple directions, but one thing you do not want to forget is to get your car accident report. Not only is it legally required, but it can also be used to your benefit if you file a personal injury lawsuit. Having a written record of everything about the incident is only helpful to you if you believe the other party is responsible for the accident.
Sometimes, filling out an Illinois Traffic Crash Report (also called an accident report and a police report), can be complicated, or you may feel unsure of how to answer specific questions. Generally, if you are involved in an accident where anyone was hurt or property was damaged, the crash report will likely be filled out by police, and you can access the crash report online. These reports can be difficult to read and understand, and we are here to make that process easier.
Don’t leave the scene of the accident
First of all, if you are in an accident, do not drive away or leave the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is strongly discouraged, especially when it involves bodily injury, fatalities, or property damage exceeding $1,500. Your presence at the accident site is critical for a few reasons, including helping those who may be injured, and allowing authorities to gather your statement and accident details. Furthermore, departing an accident scene in Illinois can result in significant consequences, such as fines of up to $25,000, potential three-year jail sentences, or the revocation or suspension of your driving privileges.
On the first page of your report, you will see lots of boxes. In these first spaces, is where the details of the accident are recorded, such as date and time, the location where the incident occurred, and the agency responsible for conducting the investigation.
Next, will be your name, address, phone number, plate number, and other essential information, and the same information concerning the other party involved with the accident. You and the other party are separated into the categories of Unit 1 and Unit 2. Unit 1 is generally seen/used by police to designate the at-fault party, though that is not always necessarily true.
After that will be where the name, date-of-birth, sex, and current condition of any passengers or witnesses involved are recorded. There are spaces only enough for five of these.
The lower section of the page is important for determining fault in the injury case. This encompasses specifics regarding both the primary and secondary causes of the collision, any issued citations or arrests, the owner of damaged property, and the posted speed limit. Additionally, this section requires the police officer to include their identification number, supervisor’s name, and signature as part of the documentation.
On the second page is a large area for not only a diagram of the accident, but also a narrative of the accident. If the crash diagram in the report doesn’t align with your recollection of the accident, consider requesting an amendment to the report, if possible. Details the officer should have in the diagram include skid marks, signage, obstacles, and other physical key factors.
Following their accident investigation, officers typically include a narrative describing their assessment of the events. If you have concerns about the accuracy of any information in this narrative, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney promptly to address potential discrepancies.
Filling out your own crash report
If you are filling out your own crash report, you’ll need to submit it to the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) within 10 days of the accident. If you do not wish to submit the form yourself, your insurance agent, the vehicle owner, or your legal representative can also fill out the report for you. This report can also be submitted online for added convenience. Fortunately, the Illinois State Police make this form available to fill out online, and to receive and return the filled out by mail. You can view instructions on filling out the online crash report in this video.
If you have been involved in a car accident, and you need help filling your crash report, or reading it, let your attorney help you. Having an attorney for a car accident lawsuit means they can help you with any and all complicated paperwork from the police, insurance companies, or other parties. At Glisson Law, with over 30 years of experience in personal injury cases, we know exactly what we are doing. We can ensure that any documents that you hand in will be perfectly filled out, and that any evidence that can be gathered from the accident report is used to ensure you compensation.
Life is stressful enough after an accident without all the complicated legal issues, so let us handle them for you. To schedule an appointment, call our office in Alton or contact us. We proudly serve injured clients in and around Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair, and Madison counties, as well as the broader Southwestern Illinois and Missouri.