In the aftermath of a car accident, getting a copy of the police report is often the first step in obtaining recovery for your losses.
Police reports, which are prepared by trained observers, provide an objective account of the incident and can provide details that the average crash victim may not remember, or witnesses may not perceive.
For residents of Virginia, understanding the process of obtaining police reports for car accident cases is essential for pursuing insurance claims, legal actions, and seeking justice for injuries and damages.
Importance of Police Reports in Car Accident Cases
Police reports hold a significant role in documenting the details of a car accident accurately and contemporaneously. These reports are typically filled out by law enforcement officers who respond to the scene of the accident, and they are completed at that time (contemporaneously).
Generally, the information includes:
Responding Officer and Agency Information
You should be able to identify the name of the reporting officer and his or her law enforcement agency and badge number. If other LEO agencies or officers are present, make sure they are properly identified as well.
Date, Time, and Location of Accident
Reports include the exact date, time, and location of the accident. In addition, the weather, traffic and road conditions are also often noted.
Identifying Information of Parties Involved
The report will include the names, contact information, and statements of drivers, passengers, and importantly, uninvolved witnesses. This information can help in identifying the parties responsible for the accident or any potential contributory negligence. More about personal information in police reports.
Description of the Accident
Reports will also provide a narrative description of how the accident occurred, including factors such as light and weather conditions, road conditions, traffic conditions, and the sequence of events leading up to the collision. Other contributing factors, such as drug or alcohol use will be documented, and cited as violations. Ensure this is accurate and unbiased.
Diagrams and Photos
Diagrams and sometimes photographs of the accident scene and vehicle damage are included to visually represent the circumstances causing the collision. These visual images become part of the complete report.
Citations and Violations
If any traffic violations or citations were issued as a result of the accident, they are documented in the report. Later, this is useful to document the at-fault driver’s driving history and reports of other accidents or traffic violations.
Details of insurance policies held by the involved parties are recorded, aiding in insurance claims processing. When you’re injured in an accident, you may not be able to personally obtain the other driver’s details, so this may be invaluable information for you and your attorney.
How Do I Get A Copy of My Car Accident Report in Virginia?
- How Do I Get a Virginia State Trooper Police Crash Report?
- How Do I Get a Virginia Sheriff’s Department Accident Report?
- How Do I Get a local Police Crash Report in Virginia?
Regardless of which police agency responded to the accident, or if you self-reported the accident, in order to obtain an accident report you must contact the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Accident reports are retained for at least three years from the report date.
An accident report can be requested through mail, fax, or in person by filling out an Information Request Form (CRD 93) and submitting a fee of $8.
Three Methods to Request a Police Crash Report in Virginia
There are three ways to obtain a vehicle crash report from the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for car accidents.
Mail your check or money order for $8 with the completed CRD 93 to:
Customer Records Work Center, Room 514
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Post Office Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269
Send your Completed CRD 93 by Fax:
Fax completed Information Request to (804) 367-0390
You will need to pay the $8 fee for a Virginia crash report by check or money order before your request is filled.
Make a crash report request in person:
Make an appointment at DMV to request the report in person.
If a matching report is found within the DMV’s database, the agency will mail the report to the requester by first-class US Mail.
For more information, and to download the required CRD 93 – Information Request form, see Virginia DMV: Request Police Crash Report.
Legal and Privacy Considerations
It’s important to note that police reports are considered public records in Virginia, which means they are generally accessible to anyone who knows how to obtain them and pays the $8 fee.
Police reports contain personal information of individuals involved in the accident. Personal information (such as address and telephone number) is generally not redacted from the report, and will be available to those who obtain the report.
Utilizing Police Reports in Car Accident Cases
Police reports serve as valuable evidence in insurance claims and legal proceedings related to car accidents and personal injury claims. They can establish liability, corroborate statements, and provide a factual history of the incident.
While police reports aim to provide an accurate account of the accident, since they are prepared by human beings, they may contain errors or subjective observations. Nobody is perfect. Parties involved should review the report for accuracy and consult legal counsel if discrepancies with an official report arise.
- Informing Insurance Companies: Provide a copy of the police report to your insurance company when filing a claim. The report helps the insurer understand the circumstances of the accident and process the claim correctly. Many insurers require a police report when a claim is filed.
- Legal Proceedings: If you plan to pursue legal action, such as a personal injury claim, or an uninsured or under-insured motorist claim, the police report can be crucial in establishing the facts of the incident and proving liability. Obtain your report as soon as feasible.
- Negotiations and Settlements: During negotiations with insurance companies or at-fault parties, the police report can be used to support your position and ensure fair compensation for your actual damages as well as for pain and suffering.
As you can see, obtaining a police report in Virginia for a car accident case is an essential step. If you need help with a car accident that resulted in serious personal injury, contact us today for a free initial case evaluation.