NHTSA estimates 10 million crashes go unreported each year, costing billions in out-of-pocket expenses to repair vehicles and pay medical expenses. It is unclear why some crash victims don’t report their accidents, although lack of insurance may contribute to that figure. To be eligible to pursue an injury claim in New Mexico, however, it is critical that you make sure that a police report is filed.
Parnall Law Firm, LLC can help accident victims navigate the often-frustrating process of obtaining police reports, making sure the right information recorded on the police report, and take over your case from there. These reports can be very helpful to the accident claim you may pursue for compensation.
For help with your injury claim, get in touch with our experienced Albuquerque car accident attorney by calling us or by filling out a contact form online today. Our consultations are always free, and you won’t owe us anything unless we secure compensation for you.
Why You Need to File a Police Report after an Albuquerque Car Accident
While people are often anxious to put a crash behind them and begin the healing process, there are several reasons why taking care of a police report now could save a future headache:
- Police reports offer an official account of events that led up to, unfolded during, and happened right after an accident.
- These reports provide a written overview from a neutral third-party, which could prove vital when negotiating with insurers.
- If there was property damage done, you’ll want an official record of these items being damaged to help during the claims process.
- An accurate police report may help find hit-and-run drivers to hold them both civilly and criminally responsible, or may help cases of distracted, drunk, or drowsy driving.
- Police reports may be the only method of holding at-fault drivers accountable when they are uninsured.
- Official reports can nullify “the court of public opinion” which often influences the decisions of insurers, and in some cases, the jury.
Apart from being a procedural requirement, victims will be thankful they requested the report because an attorney can use it to support witness testimony and what photos or videos depict. There might also be civil penalties for not filing a report, or criminal implications if you fled without phoning the police.
If you’re the at-fault driver, filing police reports help to protect you from scams or abuse.
Commercial drivers may find police reports can help them keep their licenses – and their jobs – provided the information they submit is honest. Contact our firm if you’re a commercial driver who was involved in an accident and wish to file or obtain a copy of an accident report.
Requirements for a Police Report in Albuquerque
New Mexico follows a strict protocol in filing an individual car accident police report. Below are requirements for filing a police report:
- In accidents where injury or death occur, or the damages exceed $500, police reports are required per New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 66-7-207.
- Accidents with over $1,000 in damage require a uniform crash report, downloadable from the New Mexico DOT website.
- Police reports submitted by law enforcement must be completed and sent to the DOT within 24 hours after the incident – same with car wrecks where commercial vehicles are involved.
- Accidents that didn’t occur within city limits must be reported to New Mexico State Police or the county sheriff.
Trusted by thousands each year, Parnall Law Firm, LLC can help victims during all phases of the post-accident claims process, including filing reports. If filing alone, here’s what you’ll be expected to include in every report:
- The date, time, and place where the accident happened
- Description of potential causes of the collision, including those which may include acts of God
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of those involved
- Written accounts from passengers and other witnesses
- A rough sketch of the accident, including impact point
- A detailed account of vehicle damage, including repair estimate if known
- Written statement or proof that citations were issued to the driver
- Weather condition as reported during the accident
- A description of any injuries and property damage that resulted
- A brief overview of what the aftermath looked like, including how far debris flew
For accidents where an individual hit an unoccupied vehicle, the driver is required to attach information related to the incident, their contact information and vehicle information.
Photographs are helpful to add to police reports. Make sure pictures are clear, concise and show specifics that accompany the information contained in your report.
Unless otherwise noted, filing a police report is not optional.
Deadlines for Filing a Car Accident Police Report in Albuquerque
Following a car accident, the police report time limit is important, too, because late submissions to the police department may be rejected. Currently, all victims of accidents have five days to turn in their reports, starting from the time the accident was officially called into law enforcement.
Damages of more than $500, or those resulting in serious injury or death, must be reported immediately or within a reasonable period after the accident provided unnecessary delays are avoided.
New Mexico General Services Department has an online form where accidents may be reported for any municipality across the state. You can file them in person with your local police department, too, which may be much easier.
How to Obtain a Police Report After a Car Accident in Albuquerque
Accident victims can get a copy of the police report by:
- Contacting the local police department that filled out their report.
- Filling out the department’s standard Records Request form.
- Paying the required fee, if one exists. In Albuquerque, that fee is $7.50. You may need two reports – one for your insurer, and one for your attorney.
Once purchased, take your reports and safeguard them until you’ve begun the claims process.
These reports are available online through LexisNexis for residents or filers in Albuquerque and may be available from your city government’s website as well. Check with law enforcement if not in Albuquerque to determine cost and procedures.
Alternatively, our firm can get your reports much faster through a court order if need be.
Penalties for Not Filing a Police Report After an Albuquerque Car Accident
Another reason why you need to file a police report after a car accident involves potential penalties that come with not filing a timely report. They include:
- License suspension
- Misdemeanor or felony charges if the lack of filing was to avoid prosecution
- An uphill battle in getting your injury claim accepted by an insurer or the courts
- No compensation for your wrecked vehicle, medical bills, pain and suffering or lost wages
There may be additional penalties subject to local laws. It’s easy to see why accidents should always have a legal paper trail, even if you suffered only minor injuries.
Why Your Albuquerque Police Report Could Be Important to Your Claim
A police report adds validation from an “official” standpoint. Once you’ve discussed options with your injury attorney, they can use that report in conjunction with their own independent findings to assure accuracy in what law enforcement documented.
Without this official document, attorneys have less information to use in building a case to pursue an injury claim. This could give the insurer leverage in defending their position in court, and may jeopardize the amount of compensation you receive – if you’re awarded anything.
If needed, police will be subpoenaed to testify in your case. As they have no personal stake in the accident, they can provide a valuable perspective. In certain cases, law enforcement could assist an attorney in locating other witnesses to help back up your case. Without an accident report, there would be no police involvement which could prove detrimental to your case.
Finally, in claims where an insurer believes there’s evidence of comparative fault, a police report could refute these claims.
Our Firm Can Help You Obtain Your Police Report in Albuquerque
Already under extreme pressure to get back to work, heal, replace or repair the damaged vehicle and come up with money to pay for medical expenses, the last thing accident victims want is to relive the accident by talking with law enforcement. It’s a requirement not only by law, but to get your potential claim started through the civil process.
Fortunately, an experienced attorney can help take the burden of navigating the civil claims process off of your shoulders. You can focus on what is most important, your recovery. Your lawyer can work to obtain a copy of the police report, make sure it is accurate, and use it to bolster your injury claim to pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.
Parnall Law Firm, LLC can help victims obtain their police reports. We know the deadlines, procedures and can also get your report once completed from the state website, or in person. Hurt? Call Bert. For a free consultation, call us or fill out a contact form today.