Every year, there are around 6 million car crashes on average in the United States, and approximately 90 people die each day in a collision. When it comes to Texas, a reportable accident happens every 59 seconds. Within a matter of seconds, your life can turn upside down. The accident might not even be your wrongdoing. However, that isn’t to say you won’t be required to face the repercussions, e.g., medical bills, expensive repairs to your vehicle, etc.
When you call your lawyer about the accident, they will demand a copy of the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report, aka CR-3. No matter whether you were injured or not, obtaining this report is vital to your case.
So, it is time you learned everything about car accident reports and how you can get a copy legally.
What Are Accident Reports?
An accident report or a police report is generally conducted by the officer who responds to the request for assistance at the scene of the accident. It’s a summary of a bunch of comprehensive information regarding the accident— including both facts concerning the accident, and opinions of the investigating officer at the scene.
Ways to Get Your Own Copy of the Report
To obtain a paid copy of the accident report, consider requesting it to your law enforcement office that conducted the report. Note that before leaving the scene of the incident, the officer will provide a receipt containing an identification number for the crash report.
Contact your law enforcement agency’s traffic division, pay the official fee, and you’ll have it in your possession! You’ll be asked to provide your name, the time and date of the crash, Crash ID, location, people involved, phone number, email, home address, etc.
If the Crash ID isn’t available to you, you can simply provide the time, date, and location of the scene, as well as your full name and address to help in locating the report.
You can also get a copy of the accident report for free. For instance, MyAccident.org provides a free version of your Texas Crash Report, comprising all the details from the CR-3 form with the exception of personal information, e.g., names and contacts for those involved. It also lets you download a copy of your official report.
Here’s what you need to find your accident report in Texas:
- Crash ID
- First and last name of the driver or occupant
- Time and date of the incident
- Accident location
Alternatively, you can ask the claims representative from your insurance company to identify whether they have the accident report and request a copy.
Remember, though; insurance companies don’t always possess the report. But, if they do, it will save you some time and effort. Also, keep in mind that regardless of how you decide to obtain the crash report, it may take weeks for the investigating officer to conduct it.
Contents of an Accident Report
When you’re at the scene of an accident, you’ll see that an investigating officer is taking notes and conducting a variety of information: inspecting the cars, measuring accurate distances, talking to people, taking photos, etc.
Normally, an investigating officer will perform all of these tasks to obtain crucial data for later creating the accident report. In simple terms, an accident report is essentially a summary of everything concerning the investigation of the accident.
According to our trusted source, the accident report will usually contain some, if not all, of the information listed below:
- The time and date of the accident
- The location
- Witness information
- Identifying information for everyone involved in the accident, e.g., names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and so on.
- Position of the damaged cars
- Diagram of the whole event
- Roadway, weather, and lighting conditions at the scene of the accident
- Statements from the witnesses, as well as victims (depending on their health/mental condition)
- Opinions regarding what could have caused the accident, a fault determination
- Citations/violations of law
Why Insurance Companies Care
Usually, insurance companies conduct their own investigation once the accident takes place, and thus, a claim is reported.
They will initially demand the accident report as it contains the majority of essential data regarding the event. This makes it a valuable resource for a meticulous investigation.
Admissibility in Court
Accident reports are typically used in terms of settlement agreements. However, admitting a report as evidence in a car accident lawsuit is not that simple.
When it comes to small claims courts, the defendant is usually permitted to utilize the accident report as evidence in his/her case. You will not be required to study the exact regulations of evidence. The judge will simply let the defendant and plaintiff use the accident report to explain what happened.
Your accident case may go to trial in your state’s court of general jurisdiction (also called a circuit or superior court). Remember, though; parties involved in these cases are generally held to the regulations of evidence. They are bound to contend if the report falls under the regulation against “hearsay” evidence, which keeps out a number of out-of-court statements— i.e., each statement conducted in an accident report is a statement that has been made out of court.
In some jurisdictions, the accident report could fall under the business or public records exception for admissibility. As for other jurisdictions, different exceptions to the hearsay rule could apply and allow you to use the accident report as a piece of solid evidence.
Even in a minor accident, it’s important to ensure there’s a legal accident report. Having a report in evidence for your case will support your claim significantly. It will increase your odds of obtaining the compensation you deserve, as a victim of the opposition party’s fault. Similarly, if you’re the party identified to be at fault, it is still recommended to obtain an accident report.