Car Accident Police Reports
Car accident police reports are mandated in every state. This is because they happen so often and it is vital to keep drivers responsible through legal consequences.
Many states have laws in place to keep residents accountable and safe. These laws mandate getting a police report after an accident. Some states like Colorado require drivers to file a report even for minor fender benders.
On the other hand, states like Vermont mandate that drivers only need to make a car accident police report if the total damage, property or personal injury, is over $3,000. Most states require that you file within 10 days of the accident. Drivers who fail to make a report can get their license suspended or incur violation fines.
A complete and comprehensive accident police report includes the following information:
- Date, time and location of the accident
- Names, address, phone numbers car information and insurance information of all parties involved in accident
- Information that identifies witnesses
- Description of damage on vehicles and injuries
- Weather and road conditions at the site of the accident
- Statements from all parties involved in accident
- Citations given
- Opinion of cause of collision from all parties involved
How To Obtain A Police Report
This article was co-authored by Saul Jaeger, MS. Saul Jaeger is a Police Officer and Captain of the Mountain View, California Police Department . Saul has over 17 years of experience as a patrol officer, field training officer, traffic officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and as the traffic units sergeant and Public Information Officer for the MVPD. At the MVPD, in addition to commanding the Field Operations Division, Saul has also led the Communications Center and the Crisis Negotiation Team. He earned an MS in Emergency Services Management from the California State University, Long Beach in 2008 and a BS in Administration of Justice from the University of Phoenix in 2006. He also earned a Corporate Innovation LEAD Certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2018. This article has been viewed 633,376 times.
A police report is a document police officers create after an arrest, accident, or investigation. It explains what happened, details evidence, and provides witness statements and other details. Because these reports are often used in court appearances, settlements, and insurance investigations, having a copy might be very useful for you. Whether they ask you to submit your request in person, via mail, or online, all police departments will provide you with a copy of your police report.
Police Department Request Form
If you cannot submit a police report request online or through the mail, then you will have to visit the police department in person and file a request there. Call beforehand since some departments only allow in-person requests on certain days. You can find your local police department here. Then you can find out about filling out a Police Department Request Form in person and how to get the information you need. Typically these police department request forms can be fulfilled that day.
A request will typically require you to provide your personal and contact information as well as details about the incident, including the type of incident, date, and who else was involved. Be aware that if the report pertains to an ongoing investigation then your request could be denied. If you are unclear about why your request was denied you should talk to an attorney.
How Long Does It Take To Obtain A Police Report
It typically only takes a few days to a week to get a copy of a police report if you were directly involved in the case. However, if you were not directly involved, or if you are an insurance agent, it will take longer because you have to send in a request and have it processed. This process can take up to a month or longer.
How Do I Get A Copy Of A Police Report
Police investigations may seem secretive, but did you know you can get your hands on a copy of an official police report? Whether youve been in a car accident, youve witnessed a crime, or you simply want to know about an incident that happened in your jurisdiction, there are steps you can take to request access to police reports.
The exact process may vary by jurisdiction, but it is generally the same across the country. Agencies have different policies for releasing sensitive information that is in police reports, so be sure to check with your local police department to confirm how they handle requests. As you are researching, you may find the request titled a Freedom of Information Request or a Public Access Request. Different areas use varying language, but they both mean the same thing and are referring to the Freedom of Information Act , which makes it entirely legal for citizens to request certain government information.
Reports will include details of the incident, where it took place, who was involved, witnesses, and much more essentially, it is anything that is even remotely relevant to the case. But keep in mind, you will not be able to receive a copy of a police report until after the police investigation has been closed.
So, how do you get a copy of this information? Check out the steps below.
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Request A Police Incident Report Copy
Effective Tuesday, July 6, 2021, SFPD Police Headquarters at 1245 Third Street will reopen to the public after a temporary closure due to the COVID pandemic.
You may request a police incident report in person at SFPD Police Headquarters during our normal business hours of 8 am-5 pm, Monday Friday .
The SFPD Crime Information Services Unit is responsible for processing incident report requests from the public, law enforcement agencies and other authorized organizations. The unit also processes local criminal background checks for agencies entitled to that information under the law. For all other requests that are not incident reports or local background checks, please contact the appropriate department within SFPD.
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How To Submit An Online Report
The online civilian incident system allows you to submit a report to the police immediately and print a draft copy of the police report for free. You will be required to create an online account to file your first report. Keep your login and password for future use. Please note: It is a crime to make a false police report.
NOTICE:If your incident involves a firearm of any kind, call and an officer will be sent to investigate.
Please confirm the following to find out if the Online Citizen Police Report is right for you:
- This is not an emergency
- This incident occurred in Lexington/Fayette County, Kentucky
- You do not have any suspect information
- You are at least 18 years old
- You have a valid email address
- The crime did not involve a firearm
- The reported crime is one of the following:
a. Harassing Communications b. Fraudulent Use of a Debit/Credit Card c. Theft by Unlawful Taking d. Criminal Mischief e. Lost Property f. Larceny from Auto
If you meet the above criteria, you are ready to file your report online. Please make sure to turn off your pop-up blocking software before filing the report. If you do not meet the above criteria, call to speak with an officer.
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Police Incident Report Copy Request Forms
If you elect NOT to use the portal, requests may still be submitted using U.S. Mail and email using the Incident Report Request Form. However, those requests will be manually entered and tracked in the Incident Report Request Portal by a member of CISU. You do NOT need to complete the Incident Report Request form if you submit your request via the portal.
Our request forms are available in several languages. Select your language, download and fill out the request form in your preferred language. The completed form may be either mailed or emailed to SFPD for processing. Instructions are included on all forms.
Getting A Copy Of A Police Report As The Defendant
If you were accused of a crime and your case is pending , then you are entitled to a copy of the police report. You can obtain a copy of the police report by requesting one from the District Attorney’s office who is handling the case. You or your attorney can make this request, and generally the District Attorney has a maximum time line for compliance in other words, they must give you a copy within a set number of days.
If the outcome of the case has already been decided- the case was dismissed or you were found guilty or innocent- then you can request a copy of the police report from the court. The court may charge you a copy fee for this service.
- If you were accused of a crime and your case is pending , then you are entitled to a copy of the police report.
- If the outcome of the case has already been decided- the case was dismissed or you were found guilty or innocent- then you can request a copy of the police report from the court.
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Third Parties Obtaining Reports
Sometimes third parties who were not involved in the actions mentioned in police reports might want copies of them. In these instances, most states will only allow third parties to obtain copies of police reports if the matters enclosed within the reports have already been closed. However, some states may allow third parties to obtain copies of police reports even when the cases are pending. Generally, third parties must know the case number of the reports that they want and must go to the county clerks office where the police report was filed to obtain a copy of the reports. There is usually a fee for the reports to be printed as well.
The process of obtaining copies of police reports is slightly different for different groups of people. However, they typically are not difficult to obtain, no matter who wants them.
When And How To Make A Police Report
There are many situations in which it is important to know how to make a police report. You should always file one for any incident or disturbance that affects you or your property such as a robbery, vandalism or attack.
When it comes to vehicle property, it is your right and responsibility to inform the police if anything happens to it, especially on public property.
If someone steals any car valuables such as your license plate, registration card or tires, you are advised to file a police report as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, you may be enabling further crime.
Your can become the victim of theft if your car is stolen or broken into and burglarized. You should call your local police department immediately in regards to a stolen vehicle or any personal documents like car registration.
While there is no immediate deadline for these types incidents as there is for car accidents, to get your property back and prevent further crime, you should get a police report as soon as possible.
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How Do Insurance Companies Use Police Reports
After a car accident, when a claim is reported, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation. One of the first things that an insurance company will ask for is the police report. This is because, as we discussed above, the report contains a vast amount of information pertaining to the car accident.
Sometimes the insurance company and police officers opinions are different. This is why there are times when the police report is in your favor in terms of a fault determination, but the other drivers insurance company still denies your insurance claim.
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Warrant And Capias Information
Q: What is the difference between a warrant and a capias?
A: A warrant is an order which authorizes a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring a person before the judge. A warrant may be issued when a person is charged with a crime, convicted of a crime but failed to appear for sentencing, owes a fine or is in contempt of court. A capias is also an order for arrest of a person, typically issued by the judge or magistrate in a case. It is commonly issued after a defendant fails to attend a scheduled court hearing.
Q: How do I know if I have an outstanding warrant or capias?
A: Respond to any Police District or ask an officer on the street to run a query on your social security number. You should provide some type of identification, if possible. To protect your privacy, police will NOT run a query if you simply call a district on the telephone.
Q: If there is an outstanding warrant or capias, will I be arrested on the spot?
A: Most capiases allow an officer to re-cite, meaning you will be given a new court date. However, if you have been re-cited numerous times and have continued to ignore the court date, the officer may choose to physically arrest you. Most warrants require an officer to physically arrest the person. Once you are re-cited or processed through the Hamilton County Justice Center, the warrant/capias is cancelled by the Hamilton County Central Warrants Department .
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What Type Of Information And Data Is Contained In A Police Report
The following are types of data and information that may be included. Please note that there is no universal police report. Information will vary from department to department.
- Identifying information for all parties involved in the incident, including full name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security numbers, driver license numbers
- Date of the occurrence or incident
- Location of the occurrence or incident
- The officers name and ID number
- The names of other officers who were present
- Diagrams or drawings of the scene
- The names of witnesses and their statements
- Reference number
The law enforcement case file may also contain motor vehicle information, as well as specific details of the incident and any evidence associated with the case.
Examples of police reports may include but are not limited to domestic disputes, traffic accidents, thefts, fraud, assault, burglaries, and stalking incidents. Other information that may be available includes crime surveys, crime statistics, calls for service, weather information, and traffic accident surveys.
What Information Is Contained In A Police Report
If youve ever been involved in a car accident, youve likely seen the responding officer walking around the scene of the accident taking notes. These notes are used in the police report, which, for a car accident, contain some or all of the following information:
- Name of the responding police officer
- Approximate date, time, and location of the accident
- Name and contact information of the parties involved in the accident
- Name and contact information of any witnesses to the accident
- Location of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident
- The weather, roadway, and lighting conditions at the scene
- A diagram of the accident
- Statements from the parties and witnesses
- Citations and/or violations of law
- Opinion of the officer as to the cause of the accident
Of course, all police reports arent created equal. The general rule of thumb is that the more serious the accident, the more detailed the police report.
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How To Get A Police Report
By law, certain police records and violation reports prepared and maintained by the Police Department are accessible to the general public.
If you need to get a copy of a police report, do this. First, begin by researching the requirements of the police department responsible for the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred. Then, follow the departments exact protocol for requesting and receiving those records. Start by checking the police departments website. Expand your search to the city website if you dont find anything on the police departments website.
Obtain and Fill Out Request Forms
Some departments may require that you complete a request form, sometimes called a request for public records. This may also be known as a request for open records. When you check the department website, look to see if you can download the request form from their site. If so, fill out the request form and submit it according to the directions.
Most request forms will require you to provide the first and last name of at least one of the involved parties. In addition, youll need the location, date, and time of the incident, and in some cases, the incident or case number.
Submitting the Request Form
Important Notes Regarding Submitting Requests for Police Reports
- It may take a few days or more to obtain the official documents
- Charges for obtaining copies of the documents may vary by city or jurisdiction
- Very few departments allow access to records online
Obtain A Police Report
NOTE: The Surrey RCMP Detachment is not able to provide/print copies of police reports.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision in Surrey and require an accident report, you can request a copy of the accident report by calling the Surrey RCMP Disclosure Unit at 604-599-7730. You will be asked to provide certain information including: a file number, date and location of the incident. Note: accident reports from other cities should be directed to the police force of jurisdiction.
NOTE: Requests for accident reports from other cities should be directed to the police force in the city the accident occurred.
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