You’ve doubtlessly driven by car accidents before. Most of the time, you’ve probably even seen police officers on duty. While your primary concern might have been getting through the traffic jam this caused, you may also wonder what the police were doing. This is a question that becomes much more important after you’ve been in an accident yourself, especially if you are in the process of talking to an personal injury lawyer. Some of the things that the police do might not matter for the future of your case, but some of the things they do might make a huge difference.
The most important role that the police play at a typical accident scene is helping to make sure everyone is safe. Police are often the first responders when accidents occur, and they may be the individuals who call for other services like the fire department or EMTs. In most cases, the primary role of the police is to ensure that everyone walk away safely.
In some circumstances, this means controlling the flow of traffic. Police officers are empowered to close down lanes and direct traffic. When you’ve been stopped near an accident, it’s probably because the police have determined that it is too dangerous for other people to drive near that location. The police will also take the steps necessary to get the drivers back on the road if possible, which might include calling for a wrecker.
The police may also be at the scene of the accident in their role as law enforcement officers. While most incidents involving accidents end up being civil matters, there are some accidents that are immediately and apparently criminal issues. In these cases, the police will be there to make arrests and to keep others safe at the same time.
In many cases, the police will be on site to administer sobriety tests if one or more of the parties in the accident was driving erratically. This is usually something that is only discovered by police on the scene after they have begun investigating, though, and requires that the party in question is mobile and seems to be impaired.
The police may also keep the peace at accident scenes that are potentially dangerous. In some situations, tempers run high and the police are the only people who are able to keep the parties apart. While this is unlikely to happen, the police are the best line of defense to stop any kind of assault. This is a rare function of the police at an accident scene, but one that might be incredibly important.
Taking a Report
The police also begin compiling a report about the accident after it occurs. This report is one of the most important items of evidence you can bring your personal injury lawyer, even if it is not terribly detailed. This is an official, recorded statement of what the scene of the accident looked like. There is plenty of work you can do to gather information on your own, but this document is that with which most attorneys start.
A police report is a two part document. For the most part, this is a document that is full of objective information. It will record the name of the parties present if possible, the location at which the accident occurred, and may also include some information about the state of the vehicles. The other part of the document is the officer’s opinion. This might include information about the parties involved or the conditions of the vehicles. Importantly, it might also contain information about what the police officer thinks is most likely to have happened.
Police officers play a very important role at the scenes of accidents. While most of the work they do deals with public safety and criminal matters, they are also an incredibly important source of information for those who are moving forward with a lawsuit. If you are injured in a car accident, it is vital that you get a copy of the police report. This report will help to establish some of the baseline facts of your case and give you a place from which you can work. The police are some of the most valuable witnesses to your accident, so make sure you are willing to get their statements.