Car Accident Reports: Getting Copies or Filing
Fastest Way to Get a Copy of a Car Accident Report
Each state has a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) website with different requirements and stipulations. Depending upon the state you may or may not be able to get an accident report at a local DMV office. Often it’s usually easier and faster to do it online.
If you use a state’s DMV site there may be a search fee and a report fee for each accident report you order. However, if you submit a search, but do not order any reports, you are usually charged only the search fee.
Information You Will Need To Identify the Accident
To find out if a car accident report is available, you will need date and county of the accident. Having the accident case number, vehicle plate number, or driver license number of a driver who was involved will also help with a search.
What Accident Reports Can You Request?
You may purchase any accident report filed by a police agency. However to purchase a report filed by a motorist in most states you must fulfill one of the following stipulations.
- Be named on the accident report
- Be a representative of a person named on the report
- Be a party to a civil action that arose from the accident
- Be a representative of a person who is a party to a civil action that arose from the accident
How Long After an Accident Before a Report is Available?
You may be surprised but car accident reports are not quickly available.
The amount of time required to process accident reports varies based on the location of the accident and the method, paper or electronic, used by the police agency to report it.
The time frame can be anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months for the police reports.
Car accident reports filed by motorists may take up to 2-3 months from the date of the accident before they are accessible. Each states’ time frames are different.
Can I Request A Car Accident Report By Mail?
You may also order a police accident report or motorist accident report by mail.
Some states charge more for accident reports by mail.
Check on the specific state’s website to learn how and where to mail your request.
How Long Are Accident Reports Available to the Public?
States have a time limitation on how long accident reports are available to the public. For instance, in New York State Accident reports are only retained for 4 years from the date of the accident, although there are rare exceptions.
Do I Need to File An Accident Report If I Am in a Car Accident?
Each state has different requirements. However, usually you have to fill out the state’s accident form and the mail / deliver one copy to the:
- Local police department in the city or town where the crash occurred
- Your insurance agency
- To the state’s RMV or DMV department
For instance, in Oregon you must file a report even if your vehicle was the only one in the crash. The Oregon DMV website states that If you do not report an accident when required to do so, driving privileges will be suspended.
Go to the state’s DMV or RMV website to find their requirements, forms, and instructions.