It's possible to file an insurance claim without a police report in Las Vegas in some cases. But if a police report exists for your accident, you may need to submit it to the insurance company with your claim.
Below, we explore the significance of police accident reports in insurance claims, discussing how insurers use police reports, what police reports prove (and what they don't), and why you need to hire a Las Vegas car accident lawyer to handle your accident-related insurance claim.
Brief Overview of Insurance Claims
Before delving into the specifics of filing a claim without a police report, let's review the basics of insurance claims.
An insurance claim is a formal request that a policyholder or other person makes to an insurance company to ask for a compensation claim for a covered loss. In the context of a car accident, you might submit a claim to your auto insurance carrier, seeking payment for damage to your vehicle, for instance. This is a first-party claim. You might submit a third-party claim to an at-fault party's liability insurance company, asking it to cover that party's obligation to pay for your injuries and losses.
There are several steps to filing an insurance claim. After an accident, a policyholder reports the incident to their insurance company, providing the details necessary for the insurer to open a claim file. At that point or later, the policyholder or a third party submits a claim for compensation under the policy. The insurance company reviews the claim, verifies the information, evaluates whether it covers the claim, and decides whether and how much to pay. The insurer then communicates its decision to the claimant or policyholder.
Documentation is a key component of any successful insurance claim. Claimants must often submit documents to substantiate their claim for coverage under an insurance policy. Those documents might include medical records, car repair receipts, photos of the accident scene, and witness statements. They provide evidence to support the claim for coverage and the amount they're seeking as compensation.
Role of a Police Accident Report in an Insurance Claim
A police accident report is a document that law enforcement officers prepare. It summarizes essential information about a motor vehicle accident. It typically contains data such as the names and contact information of the drivers and other parties involved, the time and location of the accident, a description of the vehicles and any observable damage to them, a crash diagram, summaries of statements from the drivers, passengers, and witnesses, and the law enforcement officer's initial conclusions about the accident's causes or contributing factors.
By law in Nevada, drivers must report accidents involving injuries, wrongful death, or more than $750 in property damage to the police. And the police must prepare an accident report whenever they respond to the scene of a crash. They have 10 days to complete that report and submit it to the Nevada Department of Public Safety, which in turn must share it with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Insurers treat police accident reports as important sources of information about a crash and often ask claimants to obtain and submit copies of any report that exists for an accident. Insurance companies rely on police accident report data to determine the facts of an accident, who was at fault, and how to decide on a claim arising from it.
And unless they have reasons to conclude otherwise, they often adopt the police report's conclusions about what happened and who was to blame.
Filing a Claim Without a Police Report in Las Vegas: Possible but Problematic
Most insurers will allow you to file a claim without a police accident report. Unless your policy specifically requires it, you can request payment from your or someone else's insurer without submitting a report with your claim.
But failing to provide an insurer with a police report may create challenges for your claim. Insurance companies expect to receive police accident reports. A report should exist for any accident involving injury, death, or vehicle damage sufficient to trigger an insurance claim. And it's easy and inexpensive to obtain a police accident report in Las Vegas from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and the Nevada State Police Highway Patrol. There are also other Nevada law enforcement agencies that might respond to a crash in the greater Las Vegas metro area.
Because accident reports are routine and readily available, insurers assume they can rely on them as impartial and authoritative proof that an accident occurred and for the basic details of what happened. If they receive a claim without an accident report, insurers may wonder why it's missing.
They may question the claim's legitimacy and demand other forms of support proving that the accident occurred. They may take longer to process the claim because they need to investigate the accident instead of deferring to the police's account. And if they struggle to get answers about the accident, they may feel more inclined than usual to deny a claim that they might otherwise have approved if you'd submitted it with a police report.
Gathering Alternative Forms of Evidence
In the absence of a police report, a lawyer can gather alternative evidence to support your insurance claim. This may include things that the police would typically use to compile a report, such as contact information of everyone involved, pictures from the accident scene, statements from the involved parties and eyewitnesses, cell phone data, and video footage of the crash.
Lawyers and their staff have experience investigating crashes and can fill in gaps that the absence of a police report might create in an insurance claim submission.
Explaining the Absence of a Police Report to the Insurer
A lawyer can communicate with the insurance company and explain why a police report isn't available. Lawyers speak the language of insurance. They know how to interact effectively with insurance company representatives and address their concerns.
By representing you in those discussions, a lawyer creates a buffer between you and the insurer, eliminating any risk of you saying the wrong thing to an adjuster and inadvertently damaging your claim.
Responding to Follow-Up Requests
Insurance companies will likely have follow-up requests when reviewing a claim without a police report. A lawyer can follow up on those requests promptly to provide the information they need. A skilled attorney can also respond to any questions or concerns the insurer has about the claim and potentially offer to obtain additional data to facilitate their claim review and approval.
Bolstering Claim Credibility Through Diligence and Reputation
Having a lawyer represent your case can significantly bolster the credibility of your claim. A lawyer who responds to requests, knows about your situation, and has a sterling reputation for getting results signals to an insurer that you mean business and your claim is legitimate. That can go a long way in resolving their doubts about the legitimacy of an accident claim lacking a police report.
Hiring a Lawyer for an Insurance Claim Is Affordable
Some accident victims hesitate to seek legal representation due to the perceived expense. Yet hiring an attorney to handle your insurance claim, especially one without a police report, is not only advisable but also affordable no matter what your financial situation is.
Car accident lawyers offer free consultations where you can discuss your accident, the absence of a police report, and your potential claim. An experienced legal professional can assess your situation, explain your rights, and outline your potential next steps, all at no charge. You owe nothing for this meeting even if you decide not to proceed with hiring the lawyer.
Lawyers for accident victims also work on a no-win, no-fee basis, or contingent fee arrangement. This means that their fees are contingent upon successfully securing compensation for their clients.
If they don't win your case, you don't owe them any legal fees. This payment structure allows you to get legal representation without worrying about upfront costs. You should know, however, that you may have to pay an opponent's court fees and costs in the event of a loss.
Frequently Asked Questions About Accident Reports and Insurance Claims
When it comes to navigating the world of insurance claims and accident reports, confusion and misinformation can lead to missteps and unnecessary difficulties. To help you avoid these problems, we've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about these matters.
How Do I Know If the Police Prepared a Report for My Accident?
If the police came to the scene of your accident, there's a report of it. If you're unsure, you can contact the LVMPD or the Highway Patrol to inquire. An experienced lawyer can also do that for you.
Can I Report an Accident Later If the Police Didn't Come to the Scene When It Happened?
In most cases, yes. It's important to report the accident as soon as possible, however. If you wait too long, it may become difficult for the police to compile the information they need for a report, and whatever information they do obtain could lack reliability.
Should I Send My Insurer an Accident Report If It Says I Was Partially at Fault?
In most cases, yes. It's always important to be honest with your insurance company. Even if a report suggests you're partially at fault, it could still help verify other details about the accident.
Police reports are not the final word on fault or liability for a crash.
They reflect a law enforcement officer's initial analysis of what happened and who's to blame based on the information available at the crash scene or shortly afterward. They're also not admissible in court as evidence of fault.
If you're unsure about providing a police report to an insurer—say, because you think it contains inaccurate or biased information—contact a lawyer immediately.
A skilled attorney can often obtain additional information disproving an officer's conclusions about your fault and demonstrating where liability for an accident truly lies. They can present this information to the insurer or court, if necessary.
How Long Does a Claim Without a Police Report Take?
The time it takes to process a claim can vary widely, ranging from mere weeks to as much as a year or more depending on factors such as the complexity of the accident and your claim, the number of parties involved in the crash, and the degree of dispute over liability and damages. Without a police report, however, a claim may take longer than usual to process, as the insurer may need to investigate the accident.
What Are My Rights If the Insurance Company Denies My Claim Because of the Lack of a Police Report?
If the insurer denied your claim due to the lack of a police report, don't give up hope of receiving compensation. You may still have the right to pursue your claim through an appeal process or in court. But to have a realistic shot at success, you'll need an experienced lawyer to handle those steps for you, so contact one as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Las Vegas Accident Attorney Today
If you recently suffered injuries in a Las Vegas traffic accident, you may need to file an insurance claim to receive the compensation you need to pay your bills and recover. And the insurer will likely expect you to submit a police accident report with that claim. You can file a claim without a police report in Las Vegas, but you will face complications.
The most reliable way to secure the maximum payment from an insurance company after an accident—whether you have an accident report to include with your claim or not—is to leave the process to an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer. To learn what an accident attorney can do for you, contact Edward M Bernstein & Associates today for a free consultation.