No one starts their day expecting tragedy, but car accidents affect tens of thousands of Montana residents and visitors each year. Unexpected collisions take a massive toll on anyone involved. With medical bills, missed work, and property damage piling up, those involved rely on their insurance to help. Filing a police report after an accident may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you suffer serious injuries. However, there are laws in Montana that may require you to file a report. Keep reading to learn more about when to file a police report and why it’s important.
When Should you File a Police Report After an Accident?
Although a police report isn’t always required to file an insurance claim, there are many cases in which an official report is a good idea. According to Montana law, accidents must be reported if:
- Anyone involved is injured or killed
- There is $1,000 or more in property damage
- If the accident involved a driver striking a dead body
If the accident occurred within a Montana municipality, the report must be filed with local police; any accident outside of a municipality can be reported to a county sheriff or highway patrol. The accident must be reported as soon as possible. While a police report will include all necessary information, you should also consider collecting your own evidence, such as photos of the scene and witness contact information. You want your insurance company to have as much information as possible about the accident to help prove your case.
Reasons for Filing a Police Report After an Accident
After an accident, you may be disoriented or in shock. You probably aren’t thinking clearly, which is precisely the reason you should contact the police. These are some of the most important reasons for filing a report.
Speeds Up the Process
Apart from complying with the law, there are several other reasons to file a police report. When it comes to filing an insurance claim, having a police report will make the process much faster and easier. The report will include the most relevant information: the time and place of an accident, the contact details and insurance information of everyone involved, a description of the damage, and notes from the officer’s investigation.
Impartial Account of the Accident
That leads to the next reason to report the accident to the police. When an officer takes statements for their report, they will include statements from those involved and witnesses. It’s essential that the report include your statement. This is especially important if you aren’t at fault or only partially at fault, since failing to make a report means that your insurance will only get the other party’s side of the story.
If circumstances such as a delayed injury lead you to file an insurance claim or lawsuit long after the accident happened, Montana law gives you three years after the date of the accident. Some injuries take time to become apparent, and sometimes drivers aren’t aware of their rights. With a police report, you’ll have more proof for your case. An officer’s objective description of the event will paint an accurate picture of the facts surrounding the accident that you may not be able to recall. The more evidence you have, the better your chances of receiving fair compensation after your accident.
Car Accident Lawyers Serving Montana
Do you need help with your insurance claim after an accident in Montana? An experienced lawyer at AFJ Law Firm, PLLC, may be able to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your car accident case and help you receive compensation.