While recovering from a car crash, there are several important steps to take to protect your legal rights. After a negligent driver causes a collision, one of those critical steps is obtaining a copy of the police report. You, your attorney, and your insurance provider all have the right to acquire a copy of this document detailing law enforcement’s findings at the scene of the accident.
Why You Need Your Car Crash Police Report
While the report itself isn’t usable in court, obtaining this document filed by the police on the scene can be a major help in establishing who specifically caused the crash and is responsible for your injury. It also serves as a useful tool for your attorney in negotiations with the insurance adjuster for a settlement, as well as during a thorough investigation if the at-fault driver needs to be taken to court.
While you should document the scene and gather witness information on your own if possible, that may not always be feasible after a serious accident. The report may include the info you weren’t able to acquire yourself, such as:
- Details on if the other driver was issued a citation or arrested.
- Diagrams drawn by police explaining how the crash occurred.
- Information on road or weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
- Photographs of damage to vehicles or surrounding objects and buildings.
- Specific contact information for witnesses and the other driver.
Where to Obtain a Pennsylvania Accident Report
You can request a copy of your accident report either in person at Philadelphia City Hall or by printing out and mailing in a request form. If the incident was handled by state police, such as if it occurred on a highway, then the report can be obtained online by searching for the date of the incident at the Pennsylvania State Police Crash Report Unit website instead.
A small fee must be paid when submitting the request form, with an extra charge applied if you want copies of police photographs. You also typically need to wait 15 days from the date of the crash to request the report, as it may not be available in City Hall archives yet.
If your accident occurred in another area of Pennsylvania or even outside the state altogether, be sure to contact the local police for instructions on how to get your report.
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