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The Importance of the Collision Report in a Car Accident Injury Case
If you're involved in a vehicle accident in California, amidst the shock and potential injuries, there's a critical document you must remember to obtain: the collision report. This official account, compiled by the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, becomes an invaluable resource for the coming personal injury claim process. In this article, we cover the essentials of what the collision report is, how it can be used, and how you can obtain a copy.
What is a Collision Report?
A collision report, often referred to as a police report, is a document prepared by the law enforcement officers who respond to the scene of an accident. It records vital information like the date, time, and location of the accident, involved parties, the nature of injuries, description of property damage, and often, an initial assessment of fault. This document serves as a detailed record of the accident and is crucial when filing a personal injury claim.
Why is the Collision Report Important?
There are several reasons why obtaining the collision report following an accident is paramount:
1. Objective Record: The collision report provides an unbiased record of the events surrounding the accident. It can help mitigate disputes about what occurred.
2. Establishing Fault: The report often includes an officer's preliminary determination of who was at fault. Although it is not the final word on the issue, this assessment can significantly influence the direction of a personal injury claim.
3. Identities of the Parties: In a serious accident, you often do not have the opportunity to exchange driver's licenses and insurance cards with the involved parties. SImilarly, you may not have the opportunity to speak to witnesses and obtain their information. The collision report will contain the identities and contact information of parties and witnesses, all of which are critical to the advancement of your case.
4. Insurance Negotiation: Insurance companies heavily rely on collision reports to evaluate claims. The report aids them in understanding the accident's circumstances and deciding on the payout amount.
5. Legal Evidence: If your case goes to court, the factual findings recorded in the collision report could be presented as evidence. It could play a pivotal role in the outcome of your case.
How to Obtain a Collision Report in California
If you're involved in an accident in California, you can obtain a copy of your collision report in a few easy steps:
1. Request in Person or By Mail: The simplest way to get your collision report is by visiting the law enforcement agency that filed the report. This could be the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or your local police department. You can usually request a copy in person or send a written request by mail. Remember, you may need to provide identification and pay a small fee.
2. Online Request: Many law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, participate in an online database run by Lexis Nexis called ByCrash, where you can request collision reports online. You can visit the BuyCrash website here: https://policereports.lexisnexis.com/ui/report/search
3. Through Your Insurance Company: Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, your insurance company may obtain a copy of the collision report sooner than you. Your own insurance should be willing to share a copy of the report with you upon request.
4. Through Your Attorney: If you've engaged a personal injury attorney, they can often get the report on your behalf. It's one of the many ways having a dedicated professional can make your post-accident journey less stressful.
Remember, collision reports may not be available immediately. It can take a few days to a few weeks before the report is ready for release, so patience is key.
Resources for Obtaining the Collision Report in Your Case
Below, you'll find a few of the major police departments in Southern California and how to request collision reports from them. For other police departments not listed, a quick internet search of the department's name followed by "collision report request" should provide you with the correct information.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
Visit the LAPD's online records and identification division at http://www.lapdonline.org/obtain_a_traffic_collision_report and follow the instructions to request a collision report online. You can also request by mail or in person at LAPD Records & Identification Division, 100 West 1st St, Room PI-137, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
San Diego Police Department (SDPD)
To request a collision report from the SDPD, visit the Police Department’s website at https://www.sandiego.gov/police/services/faqs/traffic and follow the instructions for obtaining traffic accident reports.
Long Beach Police Department (LBPD)
Traffic collision reports for Long Beach can be obtained online at https://www.longbeach.gov/police/online-services/traffic-collision-reports/. You can also visit LBPD's Records Division at 400 West Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802.
Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD)
To request a collision report from the SAPD, visit the City's website at https://www.santa-ana.org/pd/services-view/traffic-accident-reports and follow the instructions.
Anaheim Police Department (APD)
APD collision reports can be requested online through their website at https://www.anaheim.net/2899/Traffic-Collision-Reports. For mail or in-person requests, visit 200 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805.
Riverside Police Department (RPD)
Collision reports from the RPD can be requested online at https://www.riversideca.gov/rpd/general/records/default.asp. Alternatively, you can request the report in person at RPD Records Bureau, 4102 Orange Street, Riverside, CA 92501.
California Highway Patrol (CHP)
CHP reports can be obtained by visiting the CHP office closest to the accident site. Some CHP offices also offer online services. More details are available at https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/collision-report-chp-190
Remember, to request a collision report, you may need details like the date, time, and location of the accident, parties involved, and incident number if available. It may also be necessary to pay a nominal fee. Processing times can vary by department, so patience might be required. Always consult your attorney to ensure you're taking the necessary steps in your specific situation.
In the whirlwind aftermath of an accident, it's essential to stay informed and take the necessary steps to protect your rights. Obtaining your collision report is a significant part of this process. This document serves as a pivotal point of reference for all parties involved in a personal injury claim, and securing it should be a top priority. As you navigate the sometimes complex landscape of personal injury law in California, remember, you don't have to do it alone. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can make a considerable difference in your journey to justice and recovery. Here at Phillips & Associates, we offer free consultations and only charge a fee if we win. Contact us today for a case evaluation.
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