How Can I Make/Obtain a Traffic Collision Report?
Posted on September 23, 2022
If you fail to report a car accident in California, then you can face legal consequences, which are even more severe if there is property damage or a fatality as a result of the crash. You could face criminal charges if you do not file a traffic collision report. The traffic collision report is also one of the key pieces of information you will need in your car accident case. Taking the right steps after an accident is vital to reducing your liability and maximizing your chances of getting the maximum compensation possible for your losses.
A police report is an official document that includes crash information such as the date and location of the accident, witness statements, statements from both drivers, and other important information. The officer may examine the apparent damage to both cars and take notes, draw pictures, take photographs, or write down other relevant notes. Crash reports are a summary of all the information that is gathered at the scene of the accident.
Damages in a car accident include all of your medical expenses, lost income, diminished earning capacity, property damage, nursing care, and personal care. You could also potentially receive damages for your pain and suffering, permanent injury, disfigurement, scarring, emotional distress, and grief. However, to receive these damages, you will need to provide clear and convincing evidence of the other party’s negligence and fault for the accident. Crash records generated at the scene of the accident are some of the most vital pieces of evidence to support your claim so that you can receive the fair and just compensation you deserve.
When you have been involved in a crash with another driver, then you should hire an attorney immediately who will help you file your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. The King Law Firm has been helping accident victims in Southern California and will work tirelessly to build you the strongest case possible.
How do I find local car accidents?
Your first step in finding out if an official crash report has been listed for your name in a recent accident is to call state and local law enforcement agencies. It takes time for departments to process collision reports, so you may not get an answer within the first few hours after a traffic collision.
If you are concerned about a serious motor vehicle collision, then you can also call nearby hospitals and emergency medical providers to find out if a person is being treated for an injury sustained in a crash. Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), they cannot tell you anything more than whether or not the person is at the hospital. They cannot tell you what they are being treated for or their condition, but it is a good place to start.
Local Traffic Collision Statistics
Local crash data and statistics are compiled by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). On their Data and Statistics page, click on the link for OTS Crash Rankings. You will be able to type in or select the city and county in California that you want to review rankings for and which year of data you would like. For example, if you search for Ventura County in 2019, you can find that there were 5562 victims who were killed or injured in traffic crashes. Additionally:
- 598 crashes involve alcohol
- 222 involved motorcycles
- 1,207 were related to speed
- 337 were hit and run crashes
The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) is a database that collects and processes crash data gathered directly at the scene. Members of the public and California Highway Patrol (CHP) staff can access this information without needing any credentials.
Common Causes Of Car Accidents
The collision report will most likely include what the officer believes is the cause of the accident. The most common causes of car accidents are:
- Inclement weather
- Fatigued driving
- Texting while driving
- Animals crossing the road
- Driving while drunk or on drugs
- Visual, cognitive, or manual distractions
These causes could lead to rear-end collisions, T-bone or intersection accidents, sideswipe accidents, rollovers, head-on collisions, and other types of motor vehicle accidents. Different agencies also collect information on how many accidents involve pedestrians or bikers or occur in construction zones. This information is used in personal injury cases and by safety officials.
Common Injuries Caused By Car Accidents
Car accident injuries can be either impact injuries or penetrating injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Back and spine injuries
Medical records and bills only verify that a person has suffered injuries. Crash records are used to determine who is liable so that you can file your claim against them for damages.
How do I look up an accident report in Oxnard?
A law enforcement officer creates a crash report at the scene of the accident that includes the names of both drivers, their license numbers, insurance information, and the exact location of the accident, and may often include who the police officer thinks was responsible for the accident. There are two ways to receive a police report that you can then submit to your attorney:
- Visit this website to request to receive your crash report online
- You can receive your report by mail by submitting a written request to The Ventura Police Department Records Unit, 1425 Dowell Drive, Ventura, CA, 93003. You should still check with the Oxnard law enforcement agency to find out how much a report costs since those are subject to change, and you cannot receive your crash report without submitting a check or money order.
Although it is more expensive, you will want to get a certified copy instead of a regular copy, which can be used as an official document for your legal proceedings. Collision reports are generally ready within a few days of a traffic crash.
An important note regarding requests for crash reports where a juvenile was involved, an arrest was made by an officer, or a fatality was involved: you cannot request your report online. You must submit your request for a report by mail.
Do I have to report an accident to the DMV in California?
You must report your accident to the appropriate law enforcement agencies as well as the DMV by using an SR 1 form.
You are required under California law to report an accident, failure to do so can lead to penalties and consequences. The only exception is when your injuries are so severe that you are unable to fill out the required paperwork. Otherwise, you could face up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000 for not notifying the California DMV of your accident.
What else should I do after a car crash?
Check on the other party involved in the crash. You must call 911 to ensure that an officer and paramedics arrive at the scene to write a crash report and tend to the injured.
Key information that you must get from the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash includes their contact information, including the following:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Driver’s license information
- Their insurance company and policy number
When law enforcement arrives, they will take a statement from all drivers involved. You should obtain a copy of the traffic collision report before leaving the scene of the accident because you do not want there to be a chance that the other involved party says something to the officers who then change what was written on the crash report.
You do not have to engage in further conversation with the other driver, particularly if you are anxious to be around them before an officer arrives at the scene of the accident. Tensions can be high after a motor vehicle accident. You can wait in your car or at an acceptable distance from the other person involved until officers arrive. Your attorney will launch an investigation to find out what caused the crash and who is liable. There is no need to debate this on the side of the road since anything you say can be used against you in your personal injury claim.
It is possible to say too much when adrenaline is rushing after an accident. You should never apologize or accept responsibility for an accident. Accepting fault too soon could jeopardize your claim. You do not know what the other person was doing behind the wheel and whether or not they were distracted or disobeying traffic laws, which contribute to liability.
Lastly, you should always seek medical attention immediately after an accident. In addition to the collision report, your medical records indicating the extent of your injuries are useful evidence when determining your damages in your personal injury claim. The sooner you seek medical treatment and get evaluated by a doctor, the better. A physician can diagnose injuries that you may not notice yet due to the “fight or flight” response. Even if you have a copy of the crash report, you will still need copies of your medical records and expenses to obtain compensation.
Collect Evidence At The Scene of the Crash
Crash reports contain a lot of useful information, but they can be corroborated with evidence that you collect at the scene of the accident. Videos and photographs of where the accident happened, each vehicle that was involved, the damage, speed limit signs, and other traffic signals can tell a visual story of what happened. It is particularly helpful if you can get a picture of the license plate on each vehicle so that your attorney and the insurance company can easily distinguish them.
How do I get a California Highway Patrol accident report?
Fortunately, you do not have to physically go to a local CHP office where the crash report was filed to obtain a copy. You can print a copy and obtain it by mail or in person at your nearest CHP Area office. A party of interest may request a copy of the collision report from the CHP’s investigation into the traffic crash. The parties involved include the following:
- Property Owner
- Vehicle Owner
- Parent of a minor or their legal guardian
You will need to follow the instructions carefully to complete the form. You must provide:
- The date of the collision/incident. If you do not know the exact date, then you can provide an approximate date.
- The location of the collision/incident. If you do not know the exact location, then you should provide as much information as possible.
- List the owner or driver of the vehicle. If your property was the only one to be damaged in the crash, then you must list your name and address.
- For the party of interest section, you must only check one box. If you are unsure if you were entitled to a copy of the report, then contact your local CHP Area office or attorney to verify if you are considered an authorized representative.
You must also sign and submit payment with your form and a photocopy of your driver’s license. Once the CHP receives your request for a collision report and verifies that you are a party of interest, they will send a report to you.
Oxnard Personal Injury Lawyers
The King Law Firm uses crash reports as admissible forms of evidence in personal injury cases. Collision reports can vastly improve your chances of successfully obtaining the compensation you deserve by establishing negligence and liability.
The information provided on this site is not legal advice, nor does it constitute an attorney-client relationship. To get started, you should call (805) 448-4306 to schedule your free consultation with one of the personal injury lawyers at the King Law Firm. If you obtain a copy of your collision report before your meeting, then bring it in. Otherwise, we can assist you in understanding the steps to obtain a copy of your report online or by mail.