You can get injury compensation after a Chicago car accident by proving that another driver acted negligently. Unfortunately, most accident victims do not have video footage of their crashes. Instead, police officers, insurance companies, and injury lawyers piece together what happened from bits and pieces of evidence.
Your car accident report can provide valuable information about where to find the evidence you need. The report will give:
- Details about the vehicles and occupants
- Lists of witnesses
- The citations issued after the investigation
These bits of evidence can persuade a claim adjuster or jury that you deserve compensation under Illinois law.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago Crash Reports
Illinois requires drivers to report accidents to the police when they involve injury or death. You must use the fastest means of communication available to contact the local police department for crashes within a municipality. For collisions outside a city’s limits, you can call the county sheriff or the Illinois State Police.
The police agency with jurisdiction over the crash will dispatch officers to assist injured victims and investigate the crash. The responding officers will then summarize their investigation in a car accident report that’s subsequently made available to those involved in the crash.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about car accident reports:
How Do Officers Complete a Crash Report?
The responding officers investigate crashes by:
- Talking to the drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists involved
- Examining the vehicles involved
- Observing the road surface and weather conditions
- Interviewing bystander eyewitnesses
- Photographing the crash scene
- Taking measurements of skid marks or other markings
The officers record this information on a form provided by the State of Illinois.
What Is Contained In an Accident Report?
Accident reports provide:
- Names and addresses of the drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists involved
- Names and addresses of property owners
- Insurance information for each vehicle
- Names and injuries of passengers
- Names of witnesses
- When and where the crash happened
- Diagram of the accident scene
- Narrative of what happened during the crash according to the investigation
- List of citations issued
The investigating officers also include their names and signatures.
Who Can Get a Copy of a Crash Report?
Anyone, including members of the public, can get a copy of a redacted police crash report. Only certain people can get copies of unredacted car accident reports, including:
- Those injured in the crash
- Owners of property damaged in the crash
- Family members of people killed in the crash
- Drivers who may get sued for personal injury or wrongful death
To obtain an unredacted copy, you must have a court order or subpoena for the crash report.
How Can I Get a Copy of a Car Accident Report?
Officers are supposed to complete crash reports within 10 days of the crash. Unlike many states, Illinois does not have a central database for accident reports. After the report is completed, you request a copy directly from the investigating agency.
For instance, you can request crash reports prepared by the Chicago Police Department using the department’s online form. For crashes investigated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, you must file an online records request. The Illinois State Patrol also accepts online requests for crash reports.
How Can I Use a Car Crash Report?
Crash reports are not admissible in court because they constitute hearsay. But your lawyer in Chicago can use the crash report to:
- Determine where to file insurance claims
- Identify witnesses who can testify about the crash
- Prepare deposition and cross-examination questions
- Plan your defenses against claims that you caused the crash
Most injury claims never reach court. Instead, they get settled with the insurer. An accident report can persuade an insurer to settle the claim instead of fighting it.
The Value of Accident Reports
Car accident reports contain valuable information. You should consider taking a copy of your report with you when you consult injury lawyers, as it will help the attorney explain your rights and the compensation you can seek.