If you’ve been in a car accident in Texas, you may pursue a legal claim against the other driver(s) responsible for the crash. A successful car accident claim will require compelling evidence, including a copy of any police accident reports drafted by officers who responded to the crash scene. A crash report can provide a third-party perspective of the accident that may help resolve conflicting accounts of the crash. Texas has an online system for accident victims to obtain copies of the crash reports from the accident quickly.
An experienced Houston car accident lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need for your car accident claim. Contact us today to learn more about how our legal team can help you.
Why Do You Need an Accident Report?
Police accident reports frequently provide critical evidence in car accident cases. Many claims involve conflicting accounts from the drivers involved in a Texas crash. A police crash report can provide a neutral, objective perspective of the crash. Police officers receive training in investigating motor vehicle accidents and know what evidence or details to collect at a crash scene. An investigating law enforcement officer has no financial or personal interest in any legal claims that may arise from the auto accidents, so the officer can offer an unbiased opinion about what happened in the crash and who or what may have caused the accident.
Insurance companies and juries may rely on police accident reports to resolve the parties’ dispute over the events in the accident or who caused the crash. Reports may contain details about the crash, including:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- The identities of the motorists, passengers, or cyclists/pedestrians involved in the accident
- Each driver’s insurance information
- Known injuries and property damage caused by the accident
- Summaries of statements from the parties involved in the crash or eyewitnesses to the accident
- Witness contact information
- Road, weather, and lighting conditions
- A diagram of the crash scene
- Whether any driver committed a traffic violation or criminal offense
- The opinion of the law enforcement officer as to the cause of the accident or the identity of the party/parties at fault for the crash
How to Report Your Texas Car Accident
In Texas, you can report a motor vehicle crash in one of two ways. First, you can report the crash by contacting law enforcement, calling 911 to request emergency assistance, or contacting local law enforcement or the state police directly. A police officer who responds to a car accident must file a crash report.
However, police may only respond to some car accident scenes. Law enforcement agencies may not dispatch an officer if they have no officers available to respond and if the accident does not involve severe property damages, injuries, or death. Suppose a police officer does not respond to the accident scene. In that case, you must report the accident within ten days if the crash involved property damage worth more than $1,000, injuries, or death by filing a CR-2 form with local law enforcement.
Using The Online Purchase System for Your Texas Crash Report
The Texas Department of Transportation maintains an online portal for parties to request copies of police crash reports. TxDOT no longer maintains copies of CR-2 driver’s crash reports. Once you locate your police accident report and pay the processing fee, you will receive an email with a link to a webpage to download the report for ten days following your purchase. The email will also contain a local reference ID number you must enter to download the report.
Alternatively, you can obtain a police crash report by filling out and mailing a Form CR-91 to the address listed on the form, accompanied by the appropriate processing fee.
What Data Do You Need to Get the Texas Accident Report?
You will need specific information to locate the police crash report on the Texas Department of Transportation online purchase system. You can use the accident or incident report number given to you by the investigating officer to find the officer’s report in the system. If you don’t have the report number, you can search for the report using:
- The date and time of the accident
- The city where the accident occurred
- The investigating law enforcement agency
- The name of any driver involved in the accident
What Does the Accident Report Cost?
The Texas Department of Transportation charges $6 for a regular copy of a police crash report. TxDOT charges $8 if you need a certified copy of the accident report for use in a legal proceeding. The agency also charges additional processing costs if paying the fee by credit card.
Who Can Obtain a Copy of an Accident Report in Texas?
Texas law deems police accident reports confidential, so only specific categories of individuals or organizations may request a copy of a police accident report. Eligible parties include:
- Any driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian involved in the accident
- Any person or entity authorized by a person involved in the accident to obtain the report on the person’s behalf (such as an attorney)
- Any employer of a person involved in the accident
- The parent or legal guardian of a person involved in the accident
- The registered owner of any vehicle involved in the accident
- The insurance company that covers any vehicle involved in the accident
- Any party pursuing a legal action arising out of the accident
How Long Does Texas Take to Process Requests for Crash Reports?
Obtaining a crash report in Texas can take several days or weeks. First, the officer who drafted the report must submit it to the Texas Department of Transportation for uploading onto the agency’s crash records information system. In certain circumstances, TxDOT officials may redact information from the crash report. The redaction process can take up to 10 days. In addition, TxDOT imposes a 10-day holding period when purchasing a copy of a report via electronic check. Reports purchased via credit card become immediately available to download.
Contact our Texas Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
After getting into a car accident, a Texas crash report may provide critical evidence to prove your right to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage. Contact Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our Texas personal injury attorneys can help you obtain and use a Texas accident report in your car accident case. Three of our attorneys are Board-Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and we have more than 30 years of experience we can put to work for you.