The moments following a car accident are often confusing and frustrating. They are also usually coupled with a broad range of emotions. Injured victims are worried about their health while trying to contain their anger at another driver whose recklessness caused the accident. While you might not be thinking about a personal injury claim during the immediate aftermath of a crash, there are some things that you should do to help support your potential case. One of these is finding out how to get a copy of the police accident report.
It is advisable to contact law enforcement if you have been in an accident. In situations where someone was injured, you are required to call the local police. Once they arrive, the responding officers will safely cordon off the area, ensure the injured receive medical treatment, and draft a preliminary accident report. While you should ask the responding officer how to obtain a copy of the report, you can request one online, by mail, or in person.
Many important pieces of evidence are used to build a personal injury case. Even though a police report is not admissible as evidence, it does provide our Philadelphia car accident lawyers with a wealth of vital information. To discuss your car accident claim, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.
Obtaining a Pennsylvania State Police Accident Report
The easiest way to get an accident report is to visit Pennsylvania’s online crash report website. If you received one, you could search for your accident report by using an incident number.
If you do not have an incident number, you could search the database by using your name and the date of the accident. Once you locate the report, simply place the report into your online cart and pay the required $22 to complete the purchase. Once your payment has been approved, the accident report will be emailed to you.
You could also request a copy of a police report through the mail. You have to complete the Application to Obtain Copy of Police Crash Report (Form SP7-0015). To complete this form, you will need the following information, the date and time of the accident, the location of the crash, your name, the incident number, and other information necessary to identify the correct accident. When you mail the form, be sure to include a certified check or money order for $22 made payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You should mail the payment and form to Attention: Crash Report Unit, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Once your application and fee have been processed, the crash report will be mailed to you.
Who May Request a Police Accident Report
Only specified individuals and entities are entitled to request an accident report. Under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Section 3751(b), requests are limited to individuals involved in the accident, automobile insurance companies, legal representatives of individuals involved in the accident, and other government agencies.
When Will My Report Be Available
It takes time for a responding officer to complete and file an accident report. The report must then be filed in PENNDOT’s accident reporting system. Typically, an accident report should be available approximately 15 days after the incident.
Why Do You Need a Police Accident Report?
In some cases, your insurance company might obtain the police report for you. However, if you want to pursue an injury claim or negotiate with an insurance provider for a settlement, the police report will be a critical document. In some situations, our Allentown car accident lawyers will obtain the report on your be behalf.
Obtaining Accident Reports in Philadelphia
For individuals who were involved in an automobile vehicle accident in Philadelphia, the process is slightly different.
To obtain a copy by mail, complete the Accident Report Application. You will need the date the accident occurred, the location of the crash, your name, driver’s license number, the District Number, and Philadelphia Code (both of which can be obtained by calling the district where the accident occurred). In addition to the application, you must complete and include an affidavit.
Once you have completed the application, mail it to the Department of Records, Traffic Accident Reports, Room 170, City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Please include a self-addressed envelope and money order or certified check of $25 to the “City of Philadelphia.” If there were any photos included in the report, they are an additional $27.
You could also request a copy of the report in person by going to City Hall, Room 170. The Department of Records is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
When Will My Philadelphia Accident Report be Available?
Typically, Philadelphia police accident reports are available approximately two weeks from the date the accident was reported. As a general rule of thumb, the Philadelphia Department of Records advises waiting two to three weeks before requesting a report.
Can My Accident Report by Expedited?
The best way to expedite obtaining a Philadelphia police accident report is to visit the Philadelphia Department of Records in person. Otherwise, you should send a self-addressed envelope with your mailed request.
Who Can Request a Copy of an Accident Report in Philadelphia?
The individuals and entities that can request a Philadelphia report include people involved in the accident, their legal representatives, automobile insurance companies, and other government agencies.
Police Reports and Personal Injury Claims
The police accident report is a vital part of any personal injury claim arising from an automotive vehicle crash. In most cases, the police accident report is the initial record of the incident and serves as the foundation of subsequent investigations.
A Summary of the Event
An accident report serves as a summary of what occurred, the parties involved, and the responding officer’s initial determination of what occurred. While the report itself is inadmissible as evidence, it gives our Bethlehem car accident lawyers a place to begin building your case.
An accident victim’s memory of an event is generally biased. On the other hand, a police officer will give an objective analysis of what happened. The report will also include a statement from the other driver, or drivers, involved in the accident. If these statements contradict the victim’s recollections, it is even more crucial that their legal counsel is aware of the conflicting testimonies.
The report will often include a diagram of the incident. This is helpful to accident investigators in determining what occurred. An accident reconstructionist relies on the police report, photographs of the scene, and the damage the vehicles suffered to piece together the chain of events that led to the victim’s injuries.
Proof of the Accident
While this might not seem important, the accident report serves as documentation that the crash actually occurred. If the only evidence of a car accident is the victim’s testimony, it might be difficult to prove another person should be held accountable. Furthermore, some insurance companies will require a copy of the accident report before agreeing to settle a claim.
List of Parties Involved and Witnesses
After an accident, you should collect the names and contact information of the other drivers involved and any witnesses who saw what happened. However, in the chaos that follows some accidents, it is easy to forget this vital task. Fortunately, the accident report should include pertinent information regarding the other parties involved in the crash. It should also have statements from witnesses. Our Bucks County car accident attorneys will use this information to start forming a picture of what occurred.
Narrative of the Accident
As mentioned earlier, the statement from a neutral party holds more weight in a car accident case. In some cases, an injured driver might not even know what happened. A crash could occur suddenly and without warning. The responding officer will gather statements from those involved and any witnesses. Essentially, the responding officer is conducting the initial accident investigation. Depending on the severity of the wreck, the report could include photographs and diagrams. This evidence will help our office determine what occurred and who should be held liable.
The report will also include other factors that could have contributed to the accident. For example, the accident report could indicate that it was unusually foggy, raining, or snowing. The report will also have the time of day the crash occurred. In addition to natural phenomena, the responding officer will also list any road conditions that might have contributed to the accident.
Evidence of Injuries and Damages
An accident report should also indicate if any victims suffered injuries, the type of injury, and whether they received medical treatment. Such documentation is crucial in linking a victim’s injuries to the accident. If you are filing a lawsuit or working with an insurance company to be compensated for your damages, you must be able to support your claim. A police report that indicates you suffered multiple fractures and were rushed to a nearby hospital for immediate medical attention could help strengthen your personal injury claim.
To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, an accident victim must establish that another’s negligence caused their injuries. In some cases, accidents are merely accidents. To be awarded monetary compensation for your injuries and damages, our Doylestown personal injury attorneys will have to prove that another driver’s conduct caused the crash. A citation for speeding, reckless driving, or driving under the influence will help demonstrate that another driver was not acting responsibly. The police report will indicate if the responding officer issued any citations or tickets.
Amending Police Accident Reports
Even though a police report is not admissible in court, these documents are still valuable in determining who was at fault. However, what happens if you receive a copy of your report and there are mistakes or omissions? You might be able to have the report amended, but it will depend on the type of error that occurred.
A police report might contain a factual error. Typically, these are the easiest changes to make in a report because you can present objective evidence that the information is inaccurate. For example, the report could contain misspelled names, an incorrect driver’s license number, the wrong insurance company information, or an inaccurate description of the make and model of vehicles involved.
These errors are more difficult to correct. This type of error could occur if a discrepancy exists between what a responding officer wrote and what you told them. For instance, you could have said you were traveling at 30 MPH, but the office wrote 50 MPH.
Another type of transcription error occurs when the report omits something that you believe was significant. For example, you might have told the officer that your lower back was in substantial pain, but the report made no note of your injury.
Unfortunately, these types of mistakes are difficult to correct because it is almost impossible to prove that the officer made a error.
A police report is not written from your point of view. When you receive a copy of the report, you might not agree with the officer’s conclusions or description of events. For example, you might have been cited for speeding but firmly believe you were traveling at the speed limit at the time of the accident. You might also disagree with the testimony a witness provided. Because of the subjective nature of this type of information, you will not have the report changed to satisfy your point of view. Nonetheless, this information is still valuable to our Bucks County car accident lawyers, so our office understands what hurdles are ahead.
If you believe there are mistakes or omissions in your accident report, bring them to our attention immediately.
Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys Offering Professional Legal Assistance
Car accident cases are not always cut and dry. Even if another driver appears clearly at fault, you should retain the services of our experienced Lancaster personal injury lawyers to improve your chances of maximizing your compensation. In many cases, the first step in building a successful injury claim is obtaining the accident report. Contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to discuss what steps you should take after an automotive vehicle accident.