If you were involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, California, you should contact a police officer immediately after the accident. Sometimes, in minor traffic collisions, an officer may refuse to physically come out to the scene. In that case, filing a report online is the next best option. After the report is completed, you should obtain a copy for your records. It is an important piece of evidence for when (or if) you decide to pursue a claim for compensation.
Getting a Copy of the Traffic Collision Report in Los Angeles
There are three ways to request a car accident report in Los Angeles: online, in person, or by mail.
Los Angeles Police Department provides access to these reports online. To request a collision report, head to the LAPD website and enter the required information. LAPD recommends waiting at least 45 days after your accident before requesting the car accident report to ensure it is available, however, you can start checking the website as soon as the day after the accident - it is common for the report to become available much sooner. It's important to note that LAPD will not release all car accident reports through this service, including reports that involve juveniles, arrests, or fatalities. These must be requested by mail.
Alternatively, you may request a copy of your police accident report in person at your local LAPD office. Make sure to bring valid identification as the department will review your request and make sure you have the legal authority to obtain a copy of the report.
Additionally, you can request the collision report via mail. To do so, you must download the Traffic Collision Report Request and send it back with a $16.00 check or money order, which needs to be payable to the LAPD. If you can't print this form, you can still make a written request, but make sure your letter includes the following:
State that this is a traffic report you are requesting
Your name, address, and telephone number
LAPD Report number or the incident number
Your date of birth
The names of the parties listed in the report
The date and time of the accident
The location of the accident
Your license plate number and the state of registration of the involved vehicle
Your interest in the report – are you a party that was involved in the accident, are you an authorized representative, or the insurance company?
Finally, make sure to include this statement, “I declare this statement is true and correct,” then sign and date your request.
The completed request should be mailed to:
Los Angeles Police Department
Records and Identification Division
Document Processing Unit
P.O. Box 30158
Los Angeles, CA 90030
Reasons Why you Need a Car Accident Report
Typically, getting a copy of your police car accident report is important for your own records. But it becomes even more important when trying to gain compensation for your injuries, whether they are medical or property related. The police report will contain information about the driver at fault for the car accident, the injuries you and the other driver sustained because of the accident, the names of everyone involved (including witnesses), and insurance information for all involved. It will also frequently contain a diagram and a narrative of the accident, and the officer's conclusions as to the liability.
When you build a claim, this information is imperative to ensure you are protected on every front.
What Happens if Your Police Accident Report is Wrong?
If your police accident report is wrong in some way, don't worry. These documents are not admissible as evidence. Insurance companies rely on the police accident report to deny their liability, but a court cannot consider it when deciding who is liable. Also, when your attorney begins negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf, they will present the correct information – not just what is included in the report. Finally, you can also request that a correction be made to the report by way of an addendum by physically going to the station.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Police Accident Report in Los Angeles?
If you request through the mail, it could take, at a minimum, 10 to 15 business days to receive your police accident report. Requesting online or in person, if allowed, is much faster. In some cases, you may receive the report on the spot or within a few hours of requesting it.
Do You Have to File an Accident Report?
Under California law, you must file a car accident report within 24 hours if you or the other driver suffered any injuries. If you do not file a report within ten days to the Department of Motor Vehicles, you could be looking at a hefty fine or the loss of your driving privileges.
An experienced car accident attorney will use the information in your car accident report to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.