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How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident in Philadelphia

If you were involved in a serious car accident, it would be wise to contact law enforcement to obtain a police report concerning the accident. A police report can help your insurance company determine how the accident occurred and help you secure compensation for your injuries.

Police reports contain vital information about the accident, such as the names and contact information of the parties involved, insurance policy numbers, and details about the scene of the accident and how it occurred. You can choose to obtain a copy of your accident report via mail or in person at the records department, typically about two weeks after the date of the accident.

If you or a family member was severely injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer. The Reiff Law Firm offers aggressive representation to victims of car accidents that were injured because of the negligent actions of another motorist. Our Stroudsburg car accident attorneys are here to explain how to obtain a police report for a car accident in Philadelphia. Call (215) 709-6940 today to schedule a free consult with us.

Getting Your Police Report After a Car Accident in Philadelphia

In order to get a copy of your police report, you will have to submit a formal request to City Hall. Specifically, all accident report requests are processed through the Department of Records. You can choose to either submit your request via mail, utilize the online crash portal, or to go to the department in person.

Mailed applications for access to police records such as car accident reports require the applicant to submit certain information, which you should have on hand when you start the process. To complete the official form, you will need the time and place that the accident occurred, the driver’s name, and the insured party’s name if it is different from the driver. You will also need to submit a copy of a government-issued I.D. card, such as a driver’s license or passport. If you don’t have a valid government I.D., you will have to provide a supplemental form proving your identity.

Your mailed request should also contain a check or money order made out to “City of Philadelphia” for $25. If your request includes pictures, which may sometimes be available, there may be additional costs attached. Mail your request forms and payment to the following address:

Department of Records
Public Safety Records Unit
City Hall, Room 170
1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

If you don’t want to wait for the mail process, you can also choose to visit the Department of Records at the address listed above. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, though we recommend phoning ahead if you plan to come in so that they are expecting you. You may also choose to go online to request a downloadable copy of your crash report. Go to the city’s website and follow the instructions provided.

How Long Does It Take for Car Accident Police Reports to Be Available?

When the officer records the details of the accident at the scene, they are compiling information for the official report that will be written later. Typically, police reports for car accidents in Philadelphia become available for request about two weeks after the date of the accident.

If you make your request before the report is made available, your request may be denied. We recommend that you wait two to three weeks after the date of the crash to make your request so that you avoid wasting any time or money.

Who Can Request a Car Accident Police Report?

In order to properly obtain a police report for a car crash in Philadelphia, you must fit one of the acceptable categories. All drivers and passengers who were involved in the accident may validly request a copy of the police report. Additionally, lawyers for those involved in the accident, insurance companies, and certain government agencies may qualify to receive copies of the accident report. If you don’t know whether you qualify to request a specific car accident police report in Philadelphia, you can just ask one of our experienced Berks County car accident attorneys.

What if a Pennsylvania State Trooper Filed My Car Accident Police Report?

Just because your car accident occurred in or near Philadelphia does not mean that the Philadelphia Police Department was responsible for filing your accident report. Commonly, accidents that occur on state-operated highways may be filed by Pennsylvania state troopers. If the officer on the scene was a state trooper, you won’t find your accident report at City Hall.

In these cases, you will have to go through the Crash Reports Unit in Harrisburg. To get your state police accident report, you can submit your request online or by mail by using a separate form.

Filing a Police Report After a Car Accident

After a car accident occurs, your first steps should be to call an ambulance and contact law enforcement to assess the scene of the accident. While awaiting law enforcement, it would help to gather the information that would help speed up the process once they arrive. For example, you should speak with the other driver to obtain:

  • Their name, address, contact information, and driver’s license
  • The make and model of their vehicle
  • The insurance company that covers their vehicle

In Pennsylvania, it is required that a police report be filed for all car crashes where a person was injured or a fatal car accident. It is also necessary for a police report to be filed when one or more vehicles involved in the accident takes enough damage to become immobilized.

For one reason or another, law enforcement may not report to the scene of the accident to investigate. When this happens, the drivers involved in the accident must file a police report personally. The police report must be filed with the police department that services the area where the accident occurred. A police report can also be useful to provide to your insurance company and could help if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.

After you report your accident to the authorities, you will receive a “District Control” (DC) number, which is how your accident report will be filed. You will likely need your DC number to obtain a copy of your police report. Reports filed by police officers also have DC numbers, and the officer at the scene of your accident will likely provide you with yours before they leave the scene. You can give your DC number to your insurance provider when you file a claim. If you don’t remember what your DC number is, speak to one of our experienced Bethlehem car accident lawyers about how to retrieve it.

What Information Is in a Car Accident Police Report in Philadelphia?

The following is a list of information that must be included when filing a police report.

The Location of the Accident

When detailing the location of the accident, Pennsylvania requests that the filer indicate the city, borough, or township where the accident happened. If the accident happened at an intersection, the names of the intersecting streets or a nearby street should be named.

If the accident occurred on a highway, you should make a note of the nearest milepost that would indicate your location. These signs are placed along the side of the road at set intervals and often around bridges.

The Persons Involved in the Accident

In this section of the police report, you should provide information regarding every person that was injured the accident or had property damaged in the accident; this includes pedestrians or bicyclists. This information should include:

  • The names of all parties involved
  • The licenses of any drivers involved
  • The registration and financial responsibility cards of any drivers involved

Point of Impact

The documents used for the police report will come with a map that you can use to detail the points of impact for the car accident. The photos of the damage to the vehicles involved can help you fill out this area of the form.

Posted Speed Limit and Speed of Other Drivers

Detailing the speed limit for the location of the accident can be a great help to determine liability for the accident. If you did not see a posted speed limit at the scene of the accident, law enforcement could help you fill out this portion of the form.

You should also make an estimate of the speed of the driver that hit you and any other drivers when the accident happened.

Description of How the Accident Happened

This section of the police report should provide your narrative of how the accident occurred. There is also a section that allows you to draw a diagram of how the accident happened.

You should be as thorough as possible when describing the accident. All the information that you can remember about the accident is important.

It is also important to note that a police report must be filed within five days of the accident. Failing to file a report within this timeframe can affect your ability to file the report.

What If My Philadelphia Police Car Accident Report is Wrong?

While it doesn’t happen often, police reports on car accidents may contain errors or misstatements of facts. When you get a copy of your accident report, go over it with your Philadelphia car accident attorney to make sure that all of the information contained in the report is accurate.

If you discover that there are details with missing information or that names and dates are off, you have the opportunity to rectify them by submitting a request to the Department of Records. Your attorney can help you prepare your request and assist you in attaching any relevant evidence you have that proves the police report was wrong.

You may not realize how even the slightest details of a police report can have a dramatic effect on your ability to recover for your injuries. The compensation you seek is too important for you to take your chances and hope the fine print won’t affect your outcome.

Our Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help You File a Lawsuit

If you were seriously injured in a car accident, consult with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney today. The Reiff Law Firm understands how a car crash can impact your life, and we are prepared to help you file a lawsuit against the driver that injured you. Our team of lawyers possesses decades of combined legal experience, and we would be honored to represent you. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your car accident, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940, or contact us online.

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