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Knowing exactly how to get a police report for a car accident can be challenging. You know you need to share insurance information with the other driver, check yourself and your passengers for injuries, and attempt to get the damaged cars out of the way of traffic.
But did you know it’s also crucial to contact the police immediately? Doing so can ensure that a formal police report of the incident is filed. This documentation can benefit you greatly.
Our guide below will explain why it’s so important to have a police report and how to get one if you’ve been involved in a car accident. We’ve also included a sample letter to help you obtain your police report.
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What Is A Car Accident Police Report?
After an accident, it’s common to call the police to assess what happened and file an official report documenting the incident. Not sure how to get a police report for a car accident? As long as you call an officer to the scene of the accident, there is a high likelihood they will file a police report.
Police reports contain the following:
- Details about the accident (date, location, and time of the accident)
- Identifying information about any drivers and passengers (name, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information)
- Information about who is likely at fault for the collision
- Statements from those involved in the accident
- Information from any witnesses
- The responding officer’s observations about the scene and situation
Why Is a Car Accident Police Report Important?
You need to get a police report to protect yourself and your passengers. Witnesses and involved parties often remember inaccurately what transpired after the car crash. At times, people are even dishonest so as to avoid blame.
A formal report documenting what happened, even in a minor accident, helps prevent discrepancies. The earlier the report is filed, the better, because people’s memories will begin to fade the longer you wait.
Police reports also help insurance companies more accurately determine fault. Some states have specific guidelines as to whether someone should report any minor or major accidents. Additionally, while some insurance companies require parties to file reports to process claims, a police report can be very helpful to your case if you pursue personal injury litigation in court.
So, how do you get a police report for a car accident?
How Do I Obtain My Police Report?
You called the police and had a formal report taken, and now you’re wondering how to get a police report for a car accident. Here are three steps to help you:
1. Determine The Agency That Recorded The Report
The reporting agency could be the local sheriff’s department, the highway patrol, or some other law enforcement agency. Once you’ve determined this, you can search their website or call them to find out if you can order a report via phone, mail, or e-mail. In some districts, you may have to go in person to obtain your report.
Keep in mind that your report may not be ready immediately. Some agencies take a few weeks to prepare car accident reports. You may have to pay to get your copy. The administrative fee is usually around $20.
To successfully obtain a police report following a collision, you must have been involved in the accident. In other words, you must be:
- One of the individuals in the accident;
- The parents of a minor child who was involved;
- An insurance company for an involved party, or
- An attorney representing an injured party. If you’re requesting a report, make sure you’re allowed access.
2. Gather Essential Information About The Collision
Representatives of the agency will need certain details so they can find the report. Information you’ll likely need typically includes:
- The police report number
- The date of the incident
- The state, city, or town
- At least one party’s name
- Details about the location of the crash
3. Ask The Insurance Adjuster For Assistance
If you’re having trouble locating the agency that took the report or want to be sure the copy you obtain is free, you can ask the insurance adjuster handling the accident claim if they have the report and ask for a copy.
Sample Letter Requesting Police Report
Now that you have a better idea of how to get a police report for a car accident, you may also have questions about the police report request process. If you need to request a police report, you can write a letter directly to the reporting agency. When writing your letter, keep it clear and concise, and ensure it has essential information about the incident. Below is a sample letter an injured party might send to a police department.
June 17, 2022
450 Police Dept. Way
Howard, Maryland 21401
Attn: Central Records
To Whom It May Concern,
On the morning of January 4, 2022, I, Jenny Smith, was injured in a car accident on Braves Lane in Howard County. I was rushed to Mercy Hospital and treated for serious injuries. As I recall, your department arrived on the scene and took the police report for the collision.
I am writing to obtain a copy of the police report. If you need more information to locate the report, please contact me directly at (555) 345-8901. If there is a fee for obtaining this report, please e-mail me at Jenny.Smith@email.com, or fax me an invoice at (555) 345-8902, and I will pay ASAP.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
What To Do If You Still Have Questions Or Need Legal Representation
If you’re wondering how to get a police report for a car accident, follow the tips outlined above. However, if you still need guidance about the process or quality legal representation, sign up for a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney who can review the facts of your case and help you reach the best possible solution.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation, and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.