After you’ve been in a car accident, you will need to provide a copy of your accident report to your insurance, and you may also need it to prove your claims in court, whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant.
This document is considered to be unbiased and reliable because it was created by the police. It may also have the contact information of any witnesses involved, which you may also need to prove that you weren’t at fault.
It’s important to have a copy of your accident report, but how do you get it? Keep reading to learn more about the process of getting an accident report in Texas.
Accident Reports are Public Records
Many documents are public records. As the Merriam-Webster Law Dictionary describes, they are made by a public officer or government agency in the course of the performance of a duty. As such, they are subject to inspection, examination, and copying by any member of the public.
The individual requesting to see the public record does not need to state his/her reason for the request.
Accident reports are completed by government officials, usually a police agency, as part of their official duties. That being so, they are public record.
How To Obtain an Accident Report
If you want to receive a copy of an accident report in Texas, you are entitled to do so under public record law. However, your inquiry will be much easier if you have specific information about the accident before you proceed. Ideally, you should have the following information ready:
- The exact location of the accident, with intersecting streets or address
- The date and time of the accident
- The name(s) of party(ies) involved
- The law enforcement agency that handled it
If you aren’t sure in which city your accident occurred but you have the location with intersecting streets or an address, the city will be easy to find. You can either call a police telephone operator or look up the location on an internet map.
If your accident happened in a large city or suburb, the police for that city or suburb were likely the ones who responded to it. If the accident happened in a rural area, a deputy from the county sheriff’s office may have handled it.
Accessing the Report
You also may not be able to access the accident report for several days, because it must be reviewed and approved by a supervisor, then forwarded to the department’s records office.
Depending on the size of the city and the agency, the review and forwarding process could take as long as a week.
Once you have determined which agency handled the report, contact the agency’s record office and ask if the report is on file. Have the specific information about the accident ready at hand.
Giving the specific information about the accident will help the records clerk to look up the accident report quickly and to be sure that he/she is giving you the correct accident report.
In big cities like Dallas, many things can happen at the same time at nearby locations, involving people with similar names. Honest mistakes can be made.
Picking Up the Report
If you plan to pick up the report personally, do a little research beforehand and save yourself time and hassle. When you call the records office, ask what the hours of operation are.
It will likely be open only during daytime hours. If the records office is for a large urban area, ask where you can park.
A helpful clerk may direct you to an inexpensive parking spot. Ask also if there is a fee, and whether you can pay by check, cash, or credit card. An agency may charge for copies of public records, to offset the costs of using their ink and paper. To save yourself even more time, ask if you can access the report and pay for it online.
A traffic accident can complicate your life and subject you to long-lasting personal, physical, and financial hardship. This can cause personal anguish that may be increased if the accident was not your fault.
According to one Dallas accident attorney, accidents can have an impact that could last for the rest of your life, so you need to get enough money to cover all of your bills, otherwise, you could end up in debt.
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you may want to consider reaching out to a lawyer to find out more about your options.