Do you have to file a Michigan car accident police report after a car crash?
In a word, yes. As an auto accident attorney, I always tell family, friends, colleagues and clients that filing a police report is one of the most important things you can do after a motor vehicle accident. Assuming you are able, you should always call the police and make a police report.
In today’s blog post, I will answer some frequently asked questions that both myself and the other lawyers here have received over the years about filing a Michigan car accident police report.
Do you need a police report for a car accident?
Yes, you need to file a police report for a car accident in Michigan if you’re involved in a car crash that results in death or injury or property damage of $1,000 or more. (MCL 257.622)
To satisfy the law’s requirements, you must “immediately” report that accident “at the nearest or most convenient police station, or to the nearest or most convenient police officer.” (MCL 257.622)
It’s important to note that your obligation is to “report” the accident to the police. Your obligation is not necessarily to file or fill out a Michigan car accident police report.
Do the police have to fill out a Michigan car accident police report?
Yes. If you’re involved in any of the types of car crashes described above – i.e., where someone is killed or injured or there is property damage of $1,000 or more – then the police officer to whom you report the accident must fill out and file a police report. (MCL 257.622)
The Michigan car accident police report that the officer will complete is called a “UD-10 Traffic Crash Report.”
On the other hand, if you’re involved in a fender-bender on private property or in a mall parking lot and no one is hurt and the property damage is less than $1,000, then the police are not obligated to fill out an accident report.
How long do you have to file a police report after a car accident?
According to Michigan law, you must “immediately” file a police report after a car accident in Michigan if you’re involved in a car crash that results in death or injury or property damage of $1,000 or more.
Similarly, once one of these types of crashes is reported to the police, then the “officer receiving the report, or his or her commanding officer, shall immediately forward each report to the director of the department of state police on forms prescribed by the director of the department of state police.” Importantly, the “forms shall be completed in full by the investigating officer.” (MCL 257.622)
Can you file a police report days after a car accident?
It appears that you can file a police report days after a car accident in Michigan. Though the law states you must “immediately” file a police report after a car accident, the law doesn’t define “immediately,” nor does the law prohibit a car accident report from being filed if a crash wasn’t reported “immediately.”
Importantly, the law also does not relieve the police of their obligation to fill out a Michigan car accident police report – when the required circumstances exist – just because the crash was reported days after the accident occurred, i.e., not “immediately.”
Is it illegal to not report a car accident?
In Michigan, yes and no.
Yes, it is illegal to not report a car accident to the police if the accident resulted in death, injury or property damage of $1,000 or more. (MCL 257.622)
But, no, it is not illegal to not report a car accident to the police if none of the above resulted from the car accident. Michigan law imposes no general reporting requirement under these circumstances.
It’s worth noting that (for reasons not at all clear), Michigan law imposes no penalty on people who fail to comply with the reporting requirement for crashes that result in death, injury or property damage of $1,000 or more.
Who else is required to file a Michigan car accident police report?
Body shops and/or collision repair shops have an obligation to file a Michigan car accident police report on vehicles that appear to have been involved in a car crash.
Specifically, the law provides:
“The person in charge of any garage or repair shop to which is brought any motor vehicle which shows evidence of having been involved in an accident . . . shall report the same to the nearest police station or sheriff’s office immediately after such motor vehicle is received, giving the engine number, registration number and the name and address of the owner, and/or operator of such vehicle.” (MCL 257.623)
Does a police report include insurance information?
Yes. The UD-10 Michigan car accident police report that is filled out after a car crash includes both insurance company and insurance policy number information for each car involved in the accident.
How to get a police report for a car accident?
To order a copy of the Michigan car accident police report from a car crash that you were involved in, contact the police department that responded to and investigated the car crash.
Alternatively, you can order a Michigan car accident police report through the Michigan State Police’s “Traffic Crash Purchasing System.”
What are the practical reasons for filing a Michigan car accident police report?
Beyond the legal reasons for filing a Michigan car accident police report , there are excellent practical reasons for doing so.
Here’s why as an auto accident attorney, I always advise people that you MUST file a police report after a car crash:
- The lack of a police report could jeopardize a person’s mini tort claim, which allows a vehicle owner to collect up to $1,000 for vehicle damage repair costs from the at-fault driver. (The maximum mini tort recovery limit will increase to $3,000 for accidents occurring after July 1, 2020.) A judge or an insurance adjuster may decide that the person has “inadequate proof” that: (1) a car accident ever occurred; (2) the other driver was at-fault (proving this months after the fact with no police report or witnesses is extremely difficult); or (3) the vehicle damage was not already pre-existing before the car accident. Any or all of these determinations are significant because they all address essential elements to proving that one is entitled to recover damages under the Michigan mini tort law.
- Without a Michigan car accident police report on file, the at-fault party can dispute being at-fault for causing the car accident, or they can deny the car accident ever took place. Both are critical issues that you will need to show if you are injured in an auto accident and will have to file a claim for No-Fault insurance benefits with your own insurance company.
- You will also need a police report if you are to successfully pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for your own injuries and pain and suffering compensation. Just as with filing a claim with your own insurance company, a lawsuit for pain and suffering also requires showing that a car accident occurred and that the driver being sued was actually at-fault. Having these facts documented through a police report will make it much easier to bring a successful claim, especially if the at-fault driver decides later on to change his or her story.
- In Michigan, the auto insurance companies may deny your claim or put your claim “under investigation” (which is a euphemism for eventually denying your claim anyway) for auto No-Fault insurance benefits without a police report on file. This means you will potentially lose your right to No-Fault wage loss for up to three years, and coverage of your medical expenses and bills if you need medical treatment if you cannot prove that you were involved in a car accident.
- This one is critical: if you are injured in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver – and remember 50% of drivers in Detroit are driving uninsured – or if you are injured by a driver with inadequate liability policy limits compared to the severity of your injuries, then your claims for “underinsured motorist” or “uninsured motorist” benefits could be denied if you haven’t filed a Michigan car accident police report. The reason is that uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in Michigan are considered purely contractual, and if your auto insurance company conditions their UIM and UM benefits on their insured having filed a police report, that contractual provision will be upheld. Many insurance companies do have this contract language requiring a police report before filing a claim. If this is the case with your own insurance company, then even if you suffered a very serious crash-related injury, the lack of a filed police report could cost you your right to recover compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering from your car accident.