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how to get a police report

Whenever a car accident occurs, all individuals involved need to know how to acquire the police report of the incident. Police reports are official summaries of an accident’s events and details that often include crucial evidence and eyewitness testimony that can be vital to the success of a future lawsuit. 

How to Get a Police Report

How to Get a Police Report

Lamar had never been in any kind of accident before. In fact, he’d never even received so much as a speeding ticket or parking violation. So when a car swerved from the incoming lane into his own, totaling his own and breaking his arm and several ribs, Lamar didn’t know what to do next.

“All I wanted to do is get away from the accident. The police, the people watching me from their cars—it was all too much to take in. I had no idea how important getting the police report would turn out to be, or how I would even get my hands on one.”

Lamar’s legal team at Sobo & Sobo helped him acquire his police report after he recovered in hospital, and helped identify inaccuracies in the report that could affect the judgement in court. Together, they used eyewitness accounts and details from the report to prove Lamar’s innocence, winning him a settlement that continues to help him recover physically and financially.

This is a true story. We’ve changed the name and photograph of our client to protect his privacy.

Understanding how and where to get a police report can be crucial when filing a car accident lawsuit. They are usually necessary to prove negligence on the part of another driver and to acquire adequate compensation.

Step 1: Contact the Police

Any car accident victim should immediately contact the police if no officers are on or arrive at the accident site. Contacting the police both prevents things from escalating and ensures the safety of everyone involved.

Step 2: Speak to the Officer in Charge of the Scene to Get a Receipt 

Once a police officer is on the scene, accident victims should speak to the officer in charge and ask about acquiring a copy of the police report.

Most officers will immediately start creating a police report by asking questions of eyewitnesses or the people involved in the accident, as well as cataloging evidence at the scene. They will also offer a receipt to both individuals involved in an accident.

The receipt will include an identification number for the resulting police report. This number can be used to retrieve the police report for the accident at a later date.

Step 3: Retrieve the Police Report

Police reports cannot be retrieved immediately after an accident, as the officers on scene have to first file the report with their central databases. The report will be cataloged and stored for later use.

Once they have been taken care of by a medical professional, accident victims can pursue a few different methods to retrieve a police report:

  • Within 1-7 days, visit the district/precinct where the accident took place. Accident victims can typically retrieve a physical copy of their police report from the local police precinct within a week of the accident. Copies must be requested in person, and accident victims must bring identification and a copy of the police report receipt they received from the on-site officer.
  • Between 7-30 days, download the report online. Police reports are typically made available online about 7 days after an accident. Victims can visit the local district’s online portal and request a copy. They must provide their driver’s license number and the identification number on their accident receipt.
  • Between 7-30 days, request the report by mail. Accident victims can also download and complete two copies of the Request for Copy of Collision Record forms, then mail the copies to the district where the accident occurred.
  • After 30 days, request the report from the New York DMV. Once 30 days have passed, accident reports are filed with DMV databases and cannot be retrieved from local districts. Accident victims can still go online to the DMV and retrieve an online copy from this website. Note that retrieving a copy of a police report from the DMV incurs both a $7 search fee and a $15 report fee. Therefore, it’s usually better to acquire a copy of a police report sooner rather than later.

Obtaining a Police Report for Any Accident

Accident victims should always seek to obtain a police report regardless of the accident’s size or if the damage is minor. Physical and medical damage is not always apparent immediately after an accident and some people are not always honest when pressed about accident details.

Police reports remove ambiguity from what happened immediately after an accident and are a critical resource for any future accident legal action.

How Does a Police Report Help with Legal Cases?

Police reports are crucial pieces of evidence in an accident. They serve as important resources for insurance companies. After any car accident, it’s policy for insurance companies to conduct independent investigations to make sure that claims are fair and to make sure that the police officer’s conclusion does not differ from the insurance company’s.

Furthermore, police reports can be submitted as evidence in car accident cases. Motor vehicle accident attorneys can use police reports to prove fault on the part of a negligent driver or to exonerate their defendants if they are accused of causing an accident.

Contact New York Attorneys Today for Help Getting a Police Report

Any car accident victim should immediately see about retrieving a copy of their police report for their own defense, for their insurance company, and in case they wish to press a lawsuit against another driver. Attorneys that represent accident victims can retrieve police reports on their behalf.

Sobo & Sobo are experienced car accident attorneys ready and willing to help retrieve police reports and assist with car accident lawsuits. They have years of experience serving New York residents and offer a free consultation for all new clients – contact them today.