After getting into an accident, obtaining a copy of the police report for your records as well as for your attorney’s is crucial to building a strong case. Once the accident is reported, the police officer arrives on the scene to evaluate the situation, interview witnesses, and complete the appropriate forms required by the local police department. An accident claim without a police report will be incomplete and will increase the risk of your claim being denied or a lower settlement offer. You will need to gather and include all information about your crash so that your attorney will be able to obtain a decent settlement amount.
How to Obtain a Car Accident Report
Obtaining a copy of the police report is a very simple process that can be accomplished by the following steps:
- Call the number on the business card of the officer who responded to your accident and compiled your accident report. If you did not receive a business card from the police officer, contact the police station and ask for the officer who worked with you on the report.
- When you speak with the officer, explain to him who you are and give him a brief description of the accident.
- If the officer is unavailable, you can speak to the receptionist or you can call the local courthouse and ask for a clerk. Once you know which department has your accident record on file, you may need to go to the police station or court house in order to obtain a copy. Since most car accident reports are public record, you may be able to fill out an online request form and mail in your fee – fees usually range anywhere from $10-15.00.
- If you are unable to get the police report from the courthouse or the police department, call your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver to see if either has a copy. If so, ask them to mail you a copy.
- If this is not the case, your personal injury attorney will be able to obtain a copy for their records and can request it from the county that the report was filed in.
- You may also be able to find the police report at the local DMV office. Some DMV offices will provide the accident report after it has been submitted to them by the responding officer.
It may take some time for you to get the records and you may have to be a bit persistent in your search. The accident report is a crucial piece of evidence in your insurance claim, as well as in your personal injury claim.
What Type of Information is on the Report?
Once you have obtained a copy of the report and have gone over it, you will notice that it has the following information on it:
- The names of the parties involved in the accident
- The date and time of the accident
- Location of the accident
- A reference number (if available)
- Preliminary assessment of the fault – for example, it will contain the responding officer’s observations as well as statements from all parties and any witnesses in the accident.
The information that is provided on the documents includes identifying information of all parties involved in the accident and any witnesses to the accident – including but not limited to
- Full names
- Phone numbers
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number
And any other important and relevant identifying information. The report will also include motor vehicle information, as well as the details the officer took at the scene.
Sometimes the information on the police report is a matter of fact and of opinion. For example, the date and time of the accident are a matter of fact. Fault determinations are the opinions of the responding officer. After receiving the police report and doing their own investigation, the insurance companies will come to their own conclusion about who was at fault. Sometimes the outcome that the officer has made and the insurance company has made as to who was at fault is the same and sometimes it is different.
Amending a Report
Sometimes the information that is provided on the police report is not accurate. In certain circumstances, it is possible to amend a police report. Amending a factual error is a very simple process, but amending a disputed fact by the drivers as well as the police report, us usually a more difficult task.
If you have been injured in an accident and need representation, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Silverthorne Attorneys today! Consultations are free.