The estimated number of accidents every year in the United States is around 5.25 million, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. On average, nearly 40,000 people die every year from car crashes. Accidents happen every day, and it’s a stressful experience. It’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones. An accident report can help you if you know how to use it.
After assessing injuries, the first thing you should do after being in an auto accident is to call the police or 911 to report it. An operator will ask specific questions and notify the police and emergency services. The officer that arrives will take statements from the drivers, passengers, and any witnesses. They’ll also include any physical observations such as injuries and vehicle damages. They will not determine who is at-fault, although they may give citations. The information collected will be used to create an accident report.
When will the car accident report be ready?
The time frame for when a crash report is available depends on where the accident took place. The average time for obtaining a report is between three and five business days.
Where can you get a copy of the crash report?
The police officer will typically give you details on obtaining your auto accident report before leaving the scene. If you were not given this information, or you lost it, you can try contacting the police station where the accident occurred.
Some information you may need could include:
- Your full name and date of birth
- The address or location of the accident
- The date of the accident
- Your VIN number, license plate, and/or driver’s license number
Another location for obtaining a copy of the accident report would be your local Department of Transportation using the same information. You can also try websites like BuyCrash.com.
Most states offer options to obtain your report online, by mail, or in-person at the local police station or courthouse.
The officer’s observations and statements obtained at the scene of the accident will be included in the report. It may also include the names of the drivers involved, contact information, vehicle details and any citations related to the accident.
How are accident reports used?
One use for an accident report is to determine who is at-fault. Sometimes, the fault is split between more than one driver. Insurance companies use this to factor in reimbursement for damages and expenses.
Insurance companies will also use data from accident reports when determining the risk factors of insuring someone. Accidents usually result in higher insurance premiums.
Carfax will use the reports to calculate the value of the vehicle and any potential hidden issues to future buyers. Most people don’t realize that even after repairs, an accident lowers the value of their vehicle.
You can also use it in court if you’re seeking compensation from the driver. If this is the case, you may want to hire an attorney to guide you through the process. Whether you’re at fault or not, a good attorney will protect your rights.
How long do accidents stay on my record?
Car accidents can follow you for up to five years, especially if you’re found at-fault. The financial hardships can include an increase in insurance premiums, as well as large court judgments that put your assets at risk. It’s important to understand your rights when you’re involved in a car accident. While it may only be on your driving record for three-to-five years, losses from a crash can last a lifetime.
Limits for filing a claim
A victim of a crash can file a claim within two years after the incident, although the specific time limit depends on the state and age of the victim. For example, in Georgia, you have up to two years to file injury claims but four years to file property damage claims. In California, if a minor was injured, the parents have up until they turn 18, plus another two years, to file a claim. In general, it’s best to file a claim as soon as possible.
Were you injured in a car accident? Are you being sued as the driver? In either scenario, it’s important to consider contacting an attorney for guidance. A seasoned attorney will help you obtain the accident report, protect your rights from the beginning, and help you seek compensation or protect your assets. It can be overwhelming—and expensive—to attempt handling it on your own.