When the dust settles after a serious car accident and you have received necessary medical attention, it will be time to start thinking about building your injury claim. To give yourself a stronger chance of pursuing fair and maximized compensation, you will want to stack your case with evidence of liability. One of the most useful sources of evidence will be an accident report created by officials, such as police officers, at the scene of your crash. How do you look up an accident report, though?
What to Do to Get an Accident Report from the Police
The first thing you need to know is what police department responded to your accident. With everything going on at the scene of your accident, you probably did not pay attention to what department logo was on the squad cars and uniforms. If you know the county in which you were in an accident you should still be able to get the information you need by contacting that county’s police department. You can even describe the situation to the clerk and get redirected to the right office if you have called the incorrect one.
When you are speaking with a clerk at the correct police department, ask to submit an official request for a police report. They will likely tell you to come into the police department and file the request application in-person. While some departments will email copies of accident reports, many do not, and you might be instructed to mail your application through the postal service first.
For example, the Pennsylvania State Police Department requires accident report applications to be mailed to the department. There is also usually a filing fee, which could be $20 or more. Once your application and filing fee are sent to the police department, allow time for them to file it, copy it, and send it back. Depending on the circumstances, you could wait up to a month to actually have a copy of the report in your hands.
Useful Information in a Police Accident Report
Filing an application, paying a fee, and waiting weeks for a response can seem like a frustration. However, any experienced car accident attorney will tell you, it is often well worth going through the steps to get an accident report due to the wealth of information that could be included in it.
In a typical accident report, you can usually find identifying information about other drivers or passengers involved in the crash. It will also include details about where and when the accident occurred and if any citations were written for any of the drivers. Perhaps most importantly, though, a police accident report might include who the officer thinks caused the crash.
Although it is not always the case, police officers will usually list the party they assume to be at-fault as “Party 1.” Even if the officer does not write clearly who they think caused an accident, seeing who is listed as “Party 1” could be useful information that your car accident lawyer can use to start building your claim.
Get Legal Help When You Need It
The steps to getting an accident report are simple – on paper. In practice, though, you could be in for an uphill struggle if the police department that reported your crash is uncooperative. Many officers have busy schedules, and they do not want to set aside much time to file a crash report in a timely manner. Busy clerks might also make it difficult for the report to be retrieved later.
If you hit a wall when trying to get a copy of an accident report in Pennsylvania, you can turn to the attorneys of Metzger Wickersham for legal guidance and support. Our law firm has been around for more than a century, so you can be sure that we know a thing or two about dealing with police departments that try to make retrieving accident reports a struggle.
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, we can help. Contact Metzger Wickersham today to request a free and confidential consultation.