Any accident, no matter how big or small it is, needs to have a police report prepared and filed. People often make the mistake of thinking that a minor accident with no apparent injuries or property damage needs no police report. However, having that report will definitely help your case later on if you find that you've suffered injury after the fact. Not having it could mean the difference between receiving just compensation after your car accident or receiving nothing at all.
Even if you have no immediately apparent injuries, that doesn’t mean that symptoms won’t show up later. It’s entirely possible that you can begin experiencing pain later from a back or neck injury. If that occurs, and you do not have a police report, you will have very little standing. But if you have a police report on file, that is proof of the accident, what happened, and how it happened. So even if you believe you don’t have injuries, obtaining a police report is a necessary task in any accident.
Your vehicle, too, may show no significant signs of damage, but if something happens later and you find that damage did occur, having that police report will make it that much easier to recover your expenses.
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A police report not only documents the accident, but it also acts as a completely unbiased account of the accident by a third party. This is so important because it will likely be your word against the other driver’s word, and you’ll need this hard evidence to support your claim in court. The insurance companies involved will require the police report to settle the claim, and if the case does end up going to court, it is one of the very first documents that your attorney will ask you for, or will seek to obtain themselves.
The information that the police report includes is standard information about the accident. It will include facts such as:
Even if you’re at fault for the accident, the smart thing to do is to have a police report written up. You don’t know when you’ll need it in the future to help substantiate your end of the story regarding what happened in the accident.
One of the first things you’ll do after an accident occurs is call the police. When they arrive at the scene of the accident, they will proceed to ask you questions regarding the accident. They will also do this with the other drivers, and witnesses to the accident to put together a factual story regarding what happened just before, and during, the accident. After the report has been written by the police, they will go file it with their appropriate office. It may take up to ten days before you are able to obtain a copy of the report, but this is an important step in the process of protecting your interests. You may ask for more than one copy, as you will want to keep one and send one to your insurance company as well.
After you have the police report, you’ll want to forward it to your personal injury attorney, if you are bringing suit to obtain the damages you are entitled to for your injuries and subsequent medical expenses, treatment expenses, lost wages, and vehicle damage.
Anyone involved in the accident, or a representative, can request a police report from the CHP. This includes the driver, passengers, owner of the vehicle, and the parent, guardian, or heir of someone involved in the accident.
Upon requesting a police report from the CHP, you will need to provide the following information:
You’ll also need to pay the fees involved for the report. The CHP charges $10 per report up to 25 pages in length, and up to $40 for a report that is over 25 pages, up to 100 pages.
You can request a copy of the report in person at any CHP office, or via mail (but not via email). If you request a copy via mail, include a check made out to the California Highway Patrol for the fees.
Following are the locations of CHP offices in Sacramento:
5109 Tyler Street
Sacramento, CA 95841
2045 Hurley Way
Sacramento, Ca 95825
601 North 7th Street
Sacramento, Ca 95831
You can obtain a traffic accident report from the CHP, as we’ve already discussed, but if the Sacramento PD or the Sacramento Sheriff responded to your accident, you will need to obtain the report from the Sacramento Police Department.
Your report from the Sacramento Police Department will be available approximately 7-10 days from the date of the accident. The cost for the report is $5, and you can obtain it by writing your request to the following agency:
Sacramento Police Department
Attn: Records Report Request
5770 Freeport Boulevard, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95822
In your request, you’ll need to include the following information:
You will need to sign your request as someone involved in the accident (driver, passenger, or pedestrian), or as an heir if the involved party was killed in the accident. If you’ve hired an attorney to represent your claim, they can also request the report representing you or an heir of a victim. (Note: if the accident resulted in a fatality, the report could take as long as 90 days to obtain.)
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