How to get a car accident report is something you should know if you have been involved in a vehicle crash. It is usually the starting point for an investigation for an insurance claim or lawsuit. It is not admissible in court, and it may have mistakes in it, but it lays out what should be the facts of an accident. It should also state who, if anyone, was ticketed or arrested. It is an essential document for anyone involved in a car crash.
If a vehicle accident happened, under Pennsylvania statute, you must contact the local police if:
- Someone was injured or killed, or
- A vehicle is so damaged that it needs to be towed away (it cannot be safely driven without further damage to it or the roadway).
The same statute requires the police to investigate the reported accident.
The police officer at the scene, or the one who contacts those involved when a report is made afterwards, writes the report. The officer at the accident may give you an incident number to help you find the report. Without that number, give your name, the date, time, and location of the car accident to help locate it. With this information, you should be able to get your car accident police report to use in a legal claim.
How to Get a Police Report After an Accident
How to obtain a police report depends on who wrote it. If the Pennsylvania State Police are involved, you can get the report by contacting them through an email or phone call. The cost will be $22. If local police investigated, contact them. For Williamsport, you need to fill out a form and pay $15.
The police report is a summary of facts concerning the accident and the officer’s opinions. While the officer is at the scene, he or she should:
- Inspect the vehicles involved
- Talk to the drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Measure distances at different points of the scene
- Take notes and photographs, if not videos.
This is all preparation for writing the report. It not only describes what happened, it may be the basis for issuing a ticket to or arresting one driver, possibly both. The report should have:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- The names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information for both drivers
- Identifying information for witnesses
- Description of the damage to the vehicles and any surrounding objects like trees, telephone poles, or guardrails
- Descriptions of the weather, roadway, and lighting conditions
- Diagram of the accident
- Statements from the parties and witnesses
- Any citations and or violations of law
- Opinions on the accident cause and/or a fault determination.
If a mistake is in the report, you can submit the correct information and request that it be changed. Before you do, it is best to consult with your attorney who can review the corrections you would like to make. Changes to the report may be important to the outcome of your car accident case, so having the information carefully reviewed by an experienced attorney can benefit you in the long run.
You May Need to Create Your Own Accident Report
There are times when the police may not come to the scene after the accident had been reported. The weather may have been so bad there were too many accidents and other issues the prevented officers from responding. If so, drivers must report the collision with the state’s Department of Transportation. You need to use the department’s form and send it within five days of the accident. If you don’t, your driver’s license could be suspended.
Why It is Essential to File an Accident Report
Even if the accident did not seem severe enough to require calling the police at the time, filing this report is a good idea. Right after the accident, you may not have known how badly the vehicles were damaged. Physical injuries may not show themselves until many hours or days after a crash. Your insurance policy may not cover accidents that are not reported.
Learning How to Obtain a Police Report is an Essential First Step
Accident reports are critical to insurance claims and car accident lawsuits. Reports are not always correct and can’t be used as evidence at a trial. But they are still very useful documents when the police investigation is well done, and the report is properly written. An accident report is usually a map of what direction our analysis of the accident should take.
Your claim to injury compensation cannot be based just on what you describe and your opinion. Its foundation must be facts that support what you say happened in the accident. To have an insurance claim paid, it is your burden to prove your case. Our car accident attorneys can help you. Our review of the accident report will help guide our investigation. That research may uncover facts that can carry the burden of proof and support your insurance claim.
Facts we uncover could show the other driver is to blame. Useful facts can come from:
- Skid marks
- The damage to vehicles and surrounding objects
- Your injuries
- Surveillance video from nearby cameras
- Your statements and those of witnesses and the other driver.
Based on what we find, we may ask an accident reconstruction expert to help us. He or she can find out what happened, how, and determine fault in a car accident. When you work with our car accident attorney, you can count on our experience and resources to strengthen your case.
We Know How to Get a Police Report After an Accident Because It Is Important to Our Clients
Our job is to gather and organize evidence about your case. How to obtain a police report is one of the first things you learn in working on accident cases. Without facts. you have no case. Having that police report is usually a big help for our investigation and our clients.
If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or incompetence in a car crash, call our car accident lawyer at (570) 323-8711 today. Based in Williamsport, PA, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. We offer consultations on all personal injury matters as well as experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.