Do I Have to File a Police Report After an Accident, And How Do I Get a Copy of It?
If you have been involved in a car accident in Texas, filing a police report is only required in some cases. While it’s not required, it is advisable to file a police report in all cases. The police report may contain certain pertinent information that could help support a compensation claim. Insurance companies also generally require that you present a copy of this report if you plan to pursue compensation for injuries and losses resulting from the accident.
If you have questions about filing a police report or about how to obtain one, read on or contact the Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III and Associates, PLLC, today for a consultation.
What Is a Crash Report?
Police reports are also known as crash or accident reports. A crash report is a written report that contains pertinent details about the circumstances surrounding a car accident. In some cases, such as after minor accidents, you may file the report yourself. However, a law enforcement officer often makes a report after they are called to the accident scene.
Law enforcement officers will include essential details in the report. These details may include:
- A description of the accident scene
- A description of weather and road conditions
- Contact information for drivers and witnesses
- A drawn diagram of the accident
- An officer’s findings or conclusions about how or why the accident happened, in some cases
You will need to obtain the crash report to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The accident report is a critical piece of evidence for proving fault.
Do I Need to File a Police Report?
Texas law requires you to file a police report if any party involved in the accident is injured or if the vehicle damage exceeds $1,000. However, it is advisable to file a report anytime you have been in an accident.
Minor fender benders may not seem like a big deal at the time. But you should file a police report even if the accident didn’t seem to result in any injuries or expensive property damage. Some injuries don’t make themselves known immediately following an accident, such as delayed whiplash. If you sustained a whiplash injury but didn’t realize it at first, you could end up incurring sizable medical bills. It’s also possible that the vehicle damage is worse than you think. You can protect yourself by filing a police report regardless of how serious the accident initially seems.
How Do I Get a Copy of My Crash Report in Texas?
If you have been in an accident in Texas and filed a crash report, there are multiple ways to obtain a copy, including requesting a copy online or by mail.
You can obtain your crash report through the Texas Department of Transportation for a small fee. You can obtain a regular copy of the report for a $6 fee. However, you will likely need a certified copy for a legal proceeding, which you can obtain for $8. You will need to search for your accident based on identifying information, such as your name or driver’s license number.
If you cannot obtain a copy of the report through TxDOT’s online system, you can request a copy of the report by filling out a request form and mailing it to the address listed on the form. When you mail in the request form, you will need to ensure that you include appropriate payment for the type of report (regular or certified) that you are requesting.
How A Crash Report Could Be Crucial to Your Injury Case
- The police report is one of the most important pieces of evidence in the claim process. It may provide important details about the accident that could bolster your injury claim, such as:
- Information about the accident scene, including the date, time, and location of the accident.
- Contact information of both drivers and the insurance information of the other driver. Be sure to collect this information yourself for your records.
- Contact information of any bystanders who may have witnessed the accident take place. Bystanders who witnessed the crash could make a statement on your behalf to strengthen your case. You should also collect their contact details yourself at the scene of the accident just in case this information does not appear in the report.
- A statement from the other driver. If they admit fault in their statement, that could work strongly in your favor in a claim. Anything the driver says or admits could help you negotiate a settlement later.
- Descriptions of injuries sustained in the accident. This information can be useful in proving that you sustained your injuries because of the accident and not before due to some other incident.
- An initial determination of fault. The police report will usually contain the driver’s initial impression of who was at fault for the accident. This could work strongly in your favor as you pursue compensation.
- Descriptions of vehicle damage. The report will typically include a diagram that police officers can use to mark areas of your vehicle that were damaged by the crash.
- Photos of the accident scene. If the accident was particularly serious, the police may also wish to take photos of the scene. You should take your own photos and videos as well. A visual record of what occurred and what damage was sustained can work strongly in your favor during the claim process.
- A description of the conditions at the time of the accident. The police report will usually describe the weather and traffic conditions at the time of the accident.
How Willie Powells Could Help
If you have been injured in a car accident in the Houston area, you could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses related to the accident. The car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III and Associates, PLLC have the necessary knowledge and resources to help obtain the police report, craft a winning legal strategy, and pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.