Utah is known for its diverse landscapes, natural beauty, and famous national parks. However, the mountainous roads and heavy-annual snowfall can make for some treacherous road conditions, particularly in the winter. 2021 was the deadliest year for Utah drivers since 2002, with 320 fatalities.
If you’re involved in a traffic accident, contact our experienced Utah car accident lawyers immediately to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. You’ll also want to secure a police-signed accident report containing details of the incident to help establish and build your case.
What is a Police Accident Report?
A police accident report is an official document produced by a law enforcement officer that contains key elements of a car accident. The report typically includes:
- Details of the crash and accident scene
- Contact information of those involved and eyewitnesses
- Statements from those at the scene
- Legal citations or potential violations of the law by involved parties
- A sketch or diagram of the accident scene, showing the location of the vehicles, the collision course, and the point of collision
- Police officer opinions or findings relating to the cause or fault of the crash
How to Obtain an Accident Report
Accident reports are created by the officer who responds to the emergency call at the scene. You are legally required in Utah to call the police after any car crash that involves injuries. If you give information at the crash scene, the investigating officer typically provides a receipt containing the identification number for the report.
Once the report is complete, you can call the traffic division of the local law enforcement agency that handled the accident report and request a paid copy using the identification number.
If you did not receive a report identification number, you’ll need to provide your name, identification, and other details about the accident, such as the time, date, and location.
You may also receive a paid copy of the accident report electronically through the Utah Department of Safety website or from the Utah Highway Patrol office in the area where the crash happened.
You can also ask the insurance adjuster handling your claim for a free copy if they have already requested the accident report.
Utah regards accident reports as protected records. Only specific individuals can receive the reports, including:
- Someone involved in the accident, not including eyewitnesses
- Someone who suffered an injury or loss from the accident
- A legal agent (e.g., attorney or insurer), guardian, or parent of someone involved in the accident
- Licensed private investigators
- Law enforcement agents operating within their legal duties
- Government agencies that deal with crash information for legal use
- Certain members of the press or news media
The Importance of Police Reports
If you were involved in a collision as a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian, filing a police report is critical. A police report helps determine liability, and insurance companies often require a police report when you file a claim or lawsuit.
Drivers in Utah are legally obligated to notify the police and provide an account of the accident if a death or injury occurs. You also have to call law enforcement when property damage reaches or exceeds $1,500. Because it can be difficult to judge how much damage will cost to repair from only looking, it is usually better to call the police after any crash that involves damage to the vehicle(s) involved or to signs, barriers, fences, buildings, and so on.
You are legally required to stay at the accident scene until a police officer arrives and completes a report. Even if your accident was minor, alerting the police and getting an official account of your accident is a good idea in case you need to file a claim later.
Police reports are key evidence in determining liability in a car accident. Official reports are admissible in court and used by insurance adjusters when analyzing an accident. Although the court considers police officers’ views on liability, they are regarded as opinions only. It is possible to dispute a police report’s findings.
The facts of the accident, such as the time and precise location (which are included in the report) also help determine liability.
Utah No-Fault Insurance Laws
Utah’s no-fault insurance laws mean that following an accident, your car insurance pays for all medical costs and out-of-pocket expenses up to the limits of your policy, regardless of who is at fault. The minimum personal injury protection is $3,000. Vehicle owners in Utah must also hold:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injuries
- $65,000 total liability for injuries to multiple persons
- $15,000 liability for property damage
If you suffer damages that exceed your insurance coverage, an attorney can help you file a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the liable driver.
However, this is only possible if you meet the serious injury threshold. This includes having a permanent disability or impairment, permanent disfigurement, dismemberment, or having more than $3,000 in medical expenses.
What to do if You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident
Utah’s strict insurance and liability laws mean that hiring a skilled injury lawyer is essential if you’re involved in an accident. The experienced attorneys at Great West Injury Law can help you claim the compensation you deserve following an accident, including medical costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Get a free review of your case by giving us a call today.