Learn how to get your accident report sooner – and what we can do to help.
When you’re in an accident, documenting what happened is one of the most important steps you can take. But what happens after you file a report with the police or a property owner? How do you get a copy of that report and the crucial information it contains?
Getting Your Car Accident Report
The process of getting your car accident report depends on where the crash occurred.
- If your collision occurred on a non-toll highway, it may have been the New Jersey State Police or the Pennsylvania State Police who responded.
- If the accident took place on a toll highway like the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, or the Atlantic City Expressway, then you may need to contact the relevant highway authority.
- If your crash happened on city or county roadways, it was likely a local police department that responded. Find your municipal or county police department in New Jersey here or in Pennsylvania here.
You’ll need to get your car accident report from the police department that responded to the collision, even if it’s far from where you live. Fortunately, many police departments now allow you to download the police report online or request a copy by mail.
In some jurisdictions, the responding police officer will give you a card with information, including their municipality, name, and perhaps a crash identification number. Otherwise, the officer might provide this information orally. If you can, write these details down – it could help you locate your police report later.
Things to Know About Getting a Police Report
- Preparing your report can take some time – and how much time depends on who is in responsible for the report and how busy that police department is. The New Jersey State Police advised that you should wait at least 24 hours before attempting to obtain your crash report online, but it may take up to a week for that document to become available.The Pennsylvania State Police ask crash victims to wait 15 days after the accident before they submit a request for the report.Often, the responding officer can give you an estimate about when to expect your report to be available, if you ask.
- You may have to pay. Many police departments charge a fee for attaining a copy of the police report – yes, even when the other person is at fault. Be prepared to make this payment. The fee is usually small, though it can be as high as $25.00 or more. Police departments typically charge a flat rate for a copy of an accident report, though some charge per page.
- Your time with an online police report may be limited. If you get your police report online, be aware that your access to these documents may expire. The New Jersey State Police crash report service, for example, allows you access to the report for only 14 days from the date it is delivered to you via email. Make sure you save a copy in a safe place – otherwise, you could end up having to order another copy (and pay a second time).
- The more you know, the easier it is to find your accident report. Different crash report request systems work in different ways, but it’s always easier to find the report when you have all of the information available. Sometimes it’s a lot faster, too. For example, the New Jersey State Police crash report request service allows you to conduct a real-time search by case number or by last name, driver’s license number, or license plate number. However, the service warns that “requests based on crash details may take up to three months to be delivered.”
Getting an Incident Report
Not every accident involves a motor vehicle, or a police response. If you reported your slip and fall or other accident to the property owner or manager, that party likely wrote out an incident report detailing what happened.
Unlike the police, however, the property owner or manager isn’t a neutral party. The person who prepared the incident report may have twisted your statements, left out important details, or added in information that isn’t accurate in an attempt to minimize the responsible party’s negligence.
It’s a good idea to refuse to sign an incident report prepared by a commercial property owner – you have no obligation to sign the document, although the company won’t tell you so. However, it’s also a good idea to get a copy of the report so you know what the other side is saying about how the accident occurred.
You should be able to simply ask management for a copy of the incident report. But if the property owner refuses to comply, you might need to call in a professional.
We Can Help With Getting Your Accident Report
You don’t have to wait until you have a copy of the accident report in hand to get legal help. Every day, our personal injury attorneys talk to victims who haven’t gotten their reports yet – and we’re able to help.
So if you feel confident that the accident wasn’t your fault but don’t yet have the accident report to show it, that’s okay. We’ll listen to the details of what happened to you and figure out if we’re the right firm to pursue your case. If so, we can get the ball rolling early and even handle the process of getting your accident report for you – and we’ll never charge you extra for the time and effort it takes us to get that report.
If you’re having difficulty locating your accident report, or if you have your accident report but aren’t sure how to interpret the codes used on it, give us a call. We’re happy to help!