Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler February 7, 2017

By Texas state law, crash reports are required for any collision causing injury, death or $1,000 or more of damage to a property. Photo by redhumv (iStock by Getty Images)

Were you injured in an auto accident? If so, you should know how to read a police accident report made by an investigating officer. Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler has decades of experience dealing with Texas accident reports and can fight for your legal right to payments for your injury losses.

Why Are Accident Reports Important?

As for why accident reports are important, they may be vital evidence when making a personal injury claim. In fact, insurance companies often demand a copy of your police accident report just to handle your claim.

Such crash reports are not completed at the scene of an accident, but rather within 10 days of the accident. By state law, Texas Transportation Code §550.062, crash reports are required for any collision causing injury or death or $1,000 or more damage to property.

How Do I Get A Police Accident Report?

If you’re wondering how you can get an accident report, the injury lawyers at Jim Adler & Associates’ Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or Channelview offices can help you. Or you can go to the Texas Department of Transportation’s website.

There, you can request a copy of a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). Online customers can receive a crash report immediately if it’s available for purchase, at a charge of $6 for a regular copy or $8 for a certified copy for legal proceedings. You also can request a crash report be delivered by mail.

TxDOT is the custodian of records for all Texas accident reports. TxDOT collects crash reports from each law enforcement agency in Texas, regardless of whether the crash was on a state highway or other public road. It keeps such records for 10 years beyond their year of origin, but that policy began only recently, so crashes before 2009 are not available.

If you get a copy of the four-page document on your own from TxDOT, you still may need help understanding it and how it may impact your injury claim. Again, Jim Adler’s injury lawyers can help. Notify us today for a free legal review of your case, which can include an evaluation of your accident report.

What Details Are On An Accident Report?

You may be wondering what details are on a police accident report. Such information starts with the date, time and location of a collision. The location should indicate if it was on a street, highway, parking lot, construction zone, school zone or some other area.

An accident report also will note if the crash had a fatality and if a school bus or commercial vehicle was involved. If a big rig, tractor trailer, diesel truck, semi truck, 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle was in your injury accident, many details will be added to the accident report, including the vehicle’s size, weight, cargo and owner.

If charges were filed in the crash, those also should be noted on the crash report, including the specific charge and citation number.

Vehicle Information in an Accident Report

Vehicle and driver information also is part of an accident report. Vehicle information should include:

  • The vehicle’s license plate number and state
  • The vehicle’s model, make and body style
  • The vehicle’s VIN, or vehicle identification number
  • The name of the insurance company for insured drivers, and the policy number
  • If the vehicle was towed, where it was towed
  • Estimated damage to the vehicle

Driver Information in an Accident Report

As for driver information in an accident report, that should include:

  • Each driver’s name, address and phone number
  • Driver’s license details for each driver, including the type of license (commercial or private), driver’s license number and state
  • The occupation and ethnic background of each driver
  • Each driver’s insurance information

A police accident report also should note if a sobriety test was given to a driver for possible alcohol or other drug use, the kind of specimen taken, and the results of the test.

Passengers in an Accident Report

Along with the name and badge number of the responding officer, police accident reports also should list details on the passengers and even bystanders at the scene of an accident.

Passenger information should include:

  • Whether a safety restraint was used, and if so, what kind
  • Seating position
  • If the passenger was ejected from the vehicle
  • The seriousness of a passenger’s injuries

For injuries suffered by drivers, passengers or bystanders in a collision, accident reports should list where the victims were taken.

Police Opinions in an Accident Report

In most cases, police are not witnesses to the accidents they assess. Thus, police form opinions of the crash for the accident report — opinions based on information gathered at the scene.

In the form of a written narrative, police will describe how and why they believe the accident occurred under the report’s heading of “Factors and Conditions.” This can include information on weather conditions, road conditions and traffic controls.

Police officers also may draw a pictorial diagram of how they believe a crash occurred. But as with a written narrative, that constitutes police opinion and not necessarily the facts of the crash.

What If An Accident Report Is Wrong?

If an accident report is wrong, let us help you dispute it.

For instance, page 2 of your accident report has an “Injury Code” column which can greatly impact your claim for health care costs. The same page also lists “Factors and Conditions” in the accident, which the officer may have misunderstood or misinterpreted. In any event, a knowledgeable car accident attorney can challenge and correct errors in the accident report.

This can be very important, since insurance companies may cite your crash report in assessing payment for your injury losses. If the report is inaccurate and not in your favor, you could lose payments to which you should be legally entitled.

Who Can View An Accident Report?

Not everyone can view a crash report, which is considered by TxDOT to be “confidential in nature.”

Texas Transportation Code §550.065 allows for release of crash reports on written request and upon payment of required fees to anyone “directly concerned in the accident or having proper interest therein.” This includes persons actually involved in the accident, as well as their authorized representative, employer, parent or legal guardian.

An authorized representative of a crash victim can be an injury lawyer provided by Jim Adler & Associates. Let us help you understand the paperwork and significance of a car accident report. Contact us today for a free case review.

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Lorenzo Preston
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