If you or a loved one has been in a car accident and you’re looking to get compensation from the other driver, there are many pieces of evidence you’ll want to have to show that the other driver was at fault. One of these documents is the police report of the accident. The police report will need to be provided to your attorney and to your automobile insurance company so the appropriate damages can be pursued.
Why Is a Police Report Important?
As mentioned above, you’ll want to show that the other driver was at fault for the car accident and any resulting injuries. A police report is one of the most useful ways to prove fault because it generally includes detailed observations from the officer who was on the scene. Helpful evidence that is commonly included in a police report includes:
- Facts about the scene of the accident – These can include information about the weather conditions, the time of the accident, the location of the accident, the position of the vehicles immediately after the accident occurred, and whether or not the other driver was issued a ticket or violation.
- Witness reports – When an officer arrives at the scene, they generally look for people who witnessed the accident and take their statements. These witness statements are helpful to show what happened leading up to the accident and the circumstances around which the accident took place. Since there often isn’t video evidence of exactly what happened, eyewitness accounts can be critical in determining who was at fault. The officer may also include their opinion of who was at fault in the accident.
- Information about the other driver – The police report will also include information about the other driver, such as name, contact information, insurance information, and the make and model of the driver’s vehicle.
Are Police Reports Required After a Car Accident in Texas?
A police report will not always be required by law, but it is still a good idea to get one, as you never know what injuries or damages will show themselves down the line. Under Texas law, if the accident caused over $1,000 of property damage, injury, or death, you will be required to report the accident and file a police report.
Even if you don’t think there is $1,000 worth of damage, it is a good idea to report the accident and get a police report. You can’t be sure of the exact amount of the damage or the full extent of any injuries, so you’ll want to cover your bases. A police report will be crucial if you decide to file a personal injury or accident lawsuit or if you need to deal with insurance companies. The police report is considered an unbiased account of what happened at the accident, so it is relied on by juries, courts, insurance companies, and any other involved party to help determine what took place and who was at fault.
It’s important to note that Texas law provides you with 10 days to report the accident and file a police report. If a police officer cannot come to the scene of the accident, you’ll want to get on the Texas Department of Transportation website to fill out a crash report form, also called a CR-3. It is recommended that you fill out the form as close to the accident as possible. Doing so will allow you to provide the most accurate information. The information you’ll want for the crash report includes:
- A detailed description of the location of the accident, including the town, state, street names, and nearby intersections
- The date and time of the accident
- A detailed description of the vehicles involved in the accident, including make, model, year, license plate number, and vehicle identification number if you have it
- A detailed description of what happened from your point of view (Every driver’s account of the accident will differ based on their perspective, but it is important that you do your best to provide a truthful, accurate description of the events.)
- A detailed description of any injuries you suffered from the accident
- A detailed description of any property damage caused by the accident
If you are unable to file a police report, you should still make sure to document the accident as best as you can. Make sure to take down pertinent information about the other driver, such as name, contact information, and insurance information. Use your phone to take pictures of the vehicles prior to moving them. Doing so will allow you to document any other conditions that may have impacted the accident, such as poor weather conditions or disrepair of the road. If there are any witnesses, try to speak to them and get their contact information.
Get Your Police Report
Since the police report is such an important document, you want to make sure that you get a copy to provide to your personal injury attorney from Houston and your insurance company. The steps to getting an accident report may vary depending on your location.
Under Texas law, not everyone is entitled to see police reports due to the confidential information many of them contain. Only individuals who are directly involved in the accident or individuals with proper interest are eligible to request the full, unredacted police report. Those individuals include:
- The owner of the vehicle in the accident
- The authorized representative of someone who was involved in the accident
- The parent, guardian, or employer of a driver involved in the accident
- Any individual who is financially responsible for a vehicle that was involved in the accident
- Any individual who may bring a lawsuit because of the death of someone involved in the accident
- An insurance company that has issued a policy covering a vehicle or person who was involved in the accident
- A qualified radio station, television station, or newspaper
If you fall under one of the criteria above, you can request a copy of the police report. Some locations where our clients frequently request police reports are included below.
Harris County, TX
In Harris County, you can retrieve your accident report online at the Harris County Sheriff’s Department website. It’ll cost you $6 for a regular copy or $8 for a certified copy. To request a copy online, you’ll need to have a few pieces of information:
- State in which the accident took place
- Jurisdiction in which the accident took place
- One of the following:
- Police report number
- Date of the accident
- Your last name
- Location of the accident
Harris County also allows you to get a copy of your police report in person at one of the following locations:
- District 1 Substation
6831 Cypresswood Drive
Spring, TX 77379
- District 2 Substation
7900 Will Clayton
Humble, TX 77338
- District 3 Substation
Houston, TX 77049
- District 4 Substation
16715 Clay Road
Houston, TX 77084
- District 5 Substation
23828 Tomball Parkway
Tomball, TX 77375
Fort Worth, TX
Your Fort Worth accident report will cost you $11, and there are multiple ways you can request a copy.
If you want to request your copy online, you can use the Fort Worth Police Department website. To get a copy of the report, you’ll need to provide a few pieces of information:
- Police report number
- Accident date
- Accident location
- Intersecting street (if applicable)
- Your last name
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance company
Fort Worth accident reports can also be picked up at:
- The Fort Worth Police Department
100 Calvert Street
Fort Worth, TX 76107
The final way to get your Fort Worth police report is to request it via mail. When you request a copy of your police report via email, you’ll need:
- A completed police record customer order form (you can download it here)
- A money order made payable to the Fort Worth Police Department in the amount of $6
- A self-addressed, stamped envelope
This package can be mailed:
The Fort Worth Police Department
ATTN: Records Division
350 West Belknap Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102-2004.
Dallas County, TX
Like many other counties, you can obtain your police report from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department online, in-person, or via mail.
For $8, you can request a copy of your Dallas County police report online at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department website. When requesting your police report, you’ll need to provide information that shows that you are directly concerned with the accident. This information includes your driver’s license information or your vehicle identification number. Dallas County notes that it may take up to 14 days for your police report to appear on the website, so if you can’t find it right away, there’s no need to worry.
If you’d like to get a copy of your police report in person, you can visit:
The Frank Crowley Courts Building
Fiscal Department, 1st Floor
133 North Riverfront Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75207
Finally, you can request a copy of your police report via mail. To do so, you’ll need to send in a money order in the amount of $6 (made payable to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department) along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope to:
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department
ATTN: Fiscal Department
133 North Riverfront Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75207
San Antonio, TX
Unlike many other Texas counties and cities, Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, does not have the option to request a copy of your police report online. To get your police report, you have to go down to the Sheriff’s Office or send your request via mail.
Either way that you choose, you’ll need to have a few key pieces of information on hand:
- The date of the accident
- The location of the accident
- The name of a person who was involved in the accident
It’s not required that you have the case number, but if you do, it may make it easier for the Sheriff’s Department to find your police report.
A regular copy of your police report will cost $6, and a certified copy of the police report will cost $8.
If you want to request your report in person, you’ll need to visit the reports desk at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, located at:
The Bexar County Adult Detention Center
200 North Comal Street
San Antonio, TX 78207
To request your police report via mail, you’ll need to get a money order of either $6 or $8 (depending on the type of report you are requesting), made out to “Sheriff, Bexar County,” and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Both of these will need to be mailed to:
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
ATTN: Central Records, Reports Desk
200 North Comal Street
San Antonio, TX 78207
After You Obtain Your Police Report
Once you’ve received a copy of your police report, you’ll want to review the report to make sure the information included is accurate and complete. If you feel that information is not accurate or if there is information you are looking for that is not on the police report, reach out to the police department. The officer who is at the scene of the crime is usually handling many things at that time, so they may forget to put some things in the report. That does not mean that they don’t have that information on hand.
Also, make sure to give a copy to your insurance company and your attorney. If you do not have an attorney representing you, it is recommended that you start the process of hiring an experienced accident attorney. Having an attorney advocating for your rights and helping you through the claim will be beneficial to you for a number of reasons.
The laws surrounding injury liability and court procedures can be complex and confusing to navigate on your own. You may not even know what laws apply to your claim. An attorney who has experience handling accident and personal injury cases will be knowledgeable about the relevant laws as well as the potential hurdles you may face throughout your claim. They will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and how the law relates to those. They will also be comfortable navigating the courtroom procedures and deadlines. This knowledge will increase the likelihood that you will recover full compensation for the injuries you suffered.
Car accident victims frequently file claims with their insurance companies for compensation. The insurance company is not looking out for your best interest; it is looking out for its profitability. Without an attorney to fight for you, you may not get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. An experienced accident attorney has handled many negotiations with insurance companies, and they know how the process works. They’ll work hard to ensure that you get just compensation from your insurance company.
If you are trying to hold the other driver liable for your injuries and the resulting damages, you’ll need to show that the other driver was at fault. Your attorney will be familiar with the elements that will need to be proven and can work with you to collect evidence supporting your claim, like the police report.
Explaining Your Options
Claims for compensation related to a car accident do not always end the same way. Most car accident claims are settled out of court. If you are presented with a settlement offer, it may be hard for you to evaluate if the settlement offer is fair and what the ramifications of accepting the offer may be. Your attorney can help you evaluate the settlement offer and negotiate a better one. Your attorney can also help you seek compensation in court if settlement negotiations don’t achieve the outcome you desire. If your case goes to trial, it’ll be crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side who will advocate for your rights and present your case in a strategic, beneficial way.
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney in Houston, TX
At Milano Law Group, we understand the ins and outs of car accidents and personal injury claims. Our team of attorneys is dedicated to your case and committed to ensuring you get the compensation that you deserve. We will focus on your best interests and zealously advocate for you throughout your claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we want to help you. Whether you have severe injuries or you aren’t even sure your injuries are serious enough to enlist the help of an attorney, we encourage you to contact us. We’ll set up a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your unique situation and help you to determine if you have a case. Get in touch with Milano Legal Group today to speak to our experienced car accident attorneys and see what we can do for you.