How to Get a Copy of an Accident Report

A traffic accident (or incident) report is important to obtain, for legal and insurance purposes, if you have been involved in a traffic accident. The report details the circumstances of the accident, and also includes the names of the persons involved (drivers and passengers), the names of the vehicle owners, their insurance companies, whether either or both drivers were cited for moving violations, and the party at fault, in the judgment of the investigating officer. Traffic accident reports are public records and available through a simple procedure and a minor fee in all jurisdictions.

Things You'll Need

  • Accident report request form, if necessary
  • Application fee

Instructions

  1. Requesting an Accident Report

    • 1

      If you're not sure, try to determine the police department, sheriff's office or highway patrol unit responsible for investigating the accident.

    • 2

      Make a phone call to the records department of the responsible agency and ask for an accident report number. They will need the date and location of the accident. If they don't have the report number, they will refer you to another agency that might have it. Some agencies will take records requests directly over the phone.

    • 3

      Write a letter to the investigating agency, explaining that you are requesting a copy of the accident report. Give full details, including report number (if you have it), location of the accident, date and time of the accident, and the names of any parties involved, if known. Also include an explanation of your interest, either as a party to the accident, an attorney representative, a physician, insurance company representative, or member of the media. Most states provide downloadable request forms to fill out. Some states allow online accident report requests.

    • 4

      Enclose the filing fee, in the form of a check made out to the appropriate agency. Don't mail cash. If you are using an online request, you will have to provide a credit card number and expiration date.

    • 5

      Follow up with a phone inquiry if you have not received your report within two weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check your state's laws regarding which agencies have accident reports available. This information should be available online, using the search term "(your state) accident report request." The report's availability will vary depending on when the accident occurred. More recent reports often must be requested in person, before they can be entered into a database. Older reports are often only available through a statewide agency, not a local police, sheriff's or highway patrol department.
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