You’ve just been involved in a car accident. You need to get a copy of the accident report. There are several ways you can go about doing this. And the procedures differ depending on whether your accident happened in Dallas, Fort Worth, or the other cities in the DFW area.
Before you Leave the Accident Scene.
Once the officer has conducted the investigation, the officer will give each driver a small form. On this form is a “Case ID” number written on the top. Also on this form are instructions on how to obtain the accident report.
Make sure you keep this form handy. You will need to refer to it later.
When Will the Report be Ready?
The investigating officer will tell you that the report will be ready in about 10 business days. However, it will probably be completed before then. I have seen reports completed in three days or so for less complex accidents. More complex accidents or accidents involving a fatality will usually take longer just depending on the circumstances.
But, on average, the report is ready in about 5 business days or so.
Requesting the Report directly from the Police Department.
You can request the accident report directly from the police department that made the report. You can do it by mail or in person. Instruction on how to do this will be on the form given to you at the accident scene by the police officer.
You can also visit the website of the particular police department. Some departments may even offer the ability to get the report online.
The Texas “Crash Report Information System” Website.
Since 2015, the Texas Department of Transportation, Public Safety Division has created a centralized website where you can obtain a copy of your police report. This website is called the Crash Report Information System (“C.R.I.S.”)
Police departments are required to upload their accident reports to this website. This website has proven to be the most convenient way to obtain your accident reports. However, it takes a bit longer for the report to get uploaded. If a report is ready in 5 days, it might 10 days from the date of the accident for the report to appear on the C.R.I.S. website.
Once you enter the site, you will be asked if you want to search for a crash report. Once you agree to the terms and conditions, you are then re-directed to the actual search page.
On the search page, you have several different options for searching for a report. You can enter the case ID number, or can enter the name of any person involved, the date of the accident, county, etc. If the information you enter is accurate and the report has been located, you will be asked if you want to purchase the report. Then you will follow the prompts to check out and make payment.
Once you make your payment, a link appears where you can download the report to your computer.
Limitations of Getting an Accident Report.
As you might expect, an accident report contains various pieces of personal information such as names, addresses, date(s) of birth, drivers license numbers, VIN numbers, and insurance information.
Previously, police report were public record. That meant anyone could get a copy of an accident report and your personal information. About 2 years ago, Texas put a stop to that.
Unless you are authorized under the law to obtain the full police report, you will only get a redacted copy. That means the report will “black out” any personal information in order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved in the accident.
A list of the those persons authorized to receive a full copy of the accident report include:
- Any person involved in the accident
- The authorized representative of any person involved in the accident
- A driver involved in the accident
- An employer, parent or legal guardian of a driver involved in the accident
- The owner of a vehicle or property damaged in the accident
- An insurance company that issued an insurance policy covering a vehicle involved in the accident
- An insurance company that issued a policy covering any person involved in the accident
- A licensed radio or television station
- Some newspapers
- Any person who may sue because of death resulting from the accident
If you do not fall under one of these categories, then you will only get a redacted copy of the report.
Certified or Not Certified.
Always get a certified copy of the report. Why? Because, in most cases, an uncertified copy is not admissible in court. Since it only costs a couple more dollars to get a certified copy, it doesn’t make sense not get it at the beginning. Otherwise, you will have to pay for a certified copy if you need to go to court.
Do I Need to Get a Copy of the Accident Report for my Attorney?
No. If you are injured in an accident, you should hire an attorney anyway. Once you retain a car accident attorney, your attorney will get the report for you. Your attorney should even front the cost of the report.