The best way to look up or obtain an accident report is to go to the source of the report. For instance, if you were in an auto accident that involved an injury, you may be able to get the accident report from the reporting officer.
If the information is available online, you may be able to go to an official website to view or download the report, such as your D.M.V.’s website. Should you alternatively find yourself struggling with how to find out if an accident was reported, however, you can turn to a car accident lawyer in New York. We can obtain almost any kind of accident report on your behalf.
View or Order an Auto Accident Report Online
The Department of Motor Vehicles (D.M.V.) records and keeps a copy of your accident report online. Accessing your report only takes a few easy steps:
- Perform a free limited search to make sure your report is available.
- Perform a paid search using your D.M.V. accident case number, license number, or license plate number.
- Order your accident report directly from the D.M.V. site.
- Download the report or have it mailed to your home.
Since we handle cases in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, visiting one of the following websites puts you in the right place to obtain an auto accident report:
- New York Department of Motor Vehicles
- New Jersey Crash Reports
- Pennsylvania Online Crash Report Request
It may take 15 days for the accident report to get uploaded into these systems. You can call your case officer to see if the information has been added yet, or try the free search variants before you pay for a report.
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Is There a Fee for Getting a Copy of My Crash Report?
Are car accidents public record? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fee to access yours. Here are the fees as of January, 2022:
- New York: $22-$25, depending on the age of the report and which system you use.
- New Jersey: $5 to $20 depending on the accident type, plus additional fees for photos. You may need a lawyer to order a report involving a serious or fatal traffic accident.
- Pennsylvania: $22.
Available Information on an Auto Accident Report
Car accident reports can be complicated and difficult to read. Police or D.M.V. reports contain codes, symbols, and abbreviations, often without explanation. Below is a brief explanation of some of the important information you need to know. Auto accident reports contain the following information:
Number of People Injured
This is one of the first items that an insurance company may look at. The number in the box indicates the number of people who were injured in the accident. If the number is incorrect, you may have a difficult time convincing the insurance company that the rest of the report is correct or that you were among the injured.
There is a section that highlights the details of the injuries, including:
- Physical location of the injury
- The type of injury
- The severity of the injury
You can also view the codes that correlate to the injury. Make sure that the codes are correct, and that the injury information is correct. This is important when your attorney helps you submit your personal injury claim.
Cause of Accident
There is a section that contains information about the causes of the accident. It includes several codes that may indicate whether any of the following was involved in the cause of the accident:
- Road rage
- Unsafe speed
- Driver inexperience
- Driving under the influence
The codes for all reported causes can be found in the accident report
Additional Information on Your Auto Accident Report
Page one of the accident report contains the immediate information you need to know in the clearest and most concise manner possible. Your accident report may also include additional information, such as:
- Codes for page one located on page two and three
- Codes for types of injuries on page four
- Codes for hospitals on page five and six
- Truck/bus classification information on page seven
Accidents involving commercial vehicles, such as buses, trucks, or 18-wheelers cause more severe injuries and property damage. There are pages designated for these types of auto accidents. You may be able to find information for large-scale commercial vehicles. Truck type and other relevant information are provided by code.
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Is an Accident Report Always Accurate?
Accident reports are not always accurate, but insurance companies assume they are. Consequently, they can hurt your personal injury case when dealing with insurance companies if they are incorrect. One wrong code number or omission can make it difficult to prove your case.
For this reason, you may want to consider consulting a truck accident lawyer. If they can gather evidence that shows the accident report is incorrect, they can correct the assumptions of the insurance company.
Why Should You Look Up an Accident Report?
Once you’ve figured out how to get a police report from a car accident, you may find yourself wondering how to put it to use. The benefits of an accident report stem from its comprehensive nature.
You can use an accident report to determine if you may have the right to pursue a civil case against the party you believe to be liable for your losses.
You can first investigate an accident report independently or alongside a personal injury attorney. If you find that you have the grounds to hold someone else liable for your accident, you can repurpose that report. You can submit an accident report as evidence of negligence when bringing your complaint to the attention of a county clerk.
Must You Get an Accident Report Before Speaking With a Lawyer?
No, but there are good reasons to do it if you can. Getting your accident report before will help your lawyer assess your case with far more accuracy. If you have to hire a lawyer before it’s ready, like if an insurance company tries contacting you in advance to make a statement, do so. Your lawyer can order the report when it is ready.
Also, by getting the report early, you can check it for inaccuracies and bring them up at your consultation. This will help your lawyer prioritize their investigation so they can build a stronger case. The insurance company will use the same report but may not trust your story. Our New York car accident lawyers will work to find evidence that shows you are correct.
How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Car Accident Report
Beyond information about the car accident itself, the crash report can also serve as a way to determine your case’s filing deadline should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Many people try to avoid having their case go to court by filing an insurance claim instead, but sometimes settlement negotiations do not pan out as expected. If you are working with our team, we may suggest filing a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of compensation, but we must do so within the statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets the timeframe plaintiffs have to file a civil action lawsuit against a negligent party. This statute varies by state and even by case type, so our team will review the laws that apply to your case to determine its deadline.
For some general examples, the following statutory deadlines apply in the states we serve:
- New York: CPLR § 214 (three years)
- New Jersey: NJ Rev Stat § 2A:14-2 (two years)
- Pennsylvania: Pa. C.S.A. § 5524 (two years)
These timelines start from the date of injury, which would be the date of the car accident in your accident report if it was filed at the scene. We can use the date on the crash report to determine your filing deadline.
Reacting to Information in an Accident Report
Not every accident report is going to be as thorough as you want it to be. The good news is that an accident report can serve as a springboard for the rest of your case. You and a personal injury attorney can determine how you want to react to the information available in a newly-received report.
Contending With Missing Information About Liability
The parties who filed your accident report may not have been as thorough as you would’ve liked them to be. In some cases, the name of the party allegedly liable for your losses may not make it into your accident report.
The good news is that there may still be relevant evidence in the report, including a liable party’s license plate number or still footage of your accident. This data requires more sleuthing on the part of your attorneys than a name and contact information may be.
Addressing Evidence of Mutual Fault
There is a chance that an accident report may reveal that both you and another party contributed to your accident. Even if this is the case, you don’t have to throw an auto accident case out the window. The states in which Morelli Law Firm operates have varying comparative negligence policies. All of these policies allow you to continue pursuing compensation.
- New York’s Shared Fault Policy, NY CPLR § 1411, allows accident victims to recover their losses even if they are up to 99 percent responsible for their accident
- Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence policy, 42 Pa C.S.A. § 7102, allows victims of accidents to pursue compensation for their losses so long as they are less than 51 percent liable for an accident
- New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.1, only allows car accident victims to collect damages if they are 50 percent responsible for an accident or less
If you want to argue that you contributed less fault to an accident than an accident report claims, make sure you have evidence to defend your side of the story. Personal injury attorneys can gather this evidence on your behalf and argue against assertions of fault that might deny you your right to compensation.
Note, however, that civil courts can reduce the amount of compensation you receive for a car accident based on the percentage of fault you allegedly contribute to an accident. For example, parties who can be held liable for 30 percent of an accident’s related losses may only receive 70 percent of the compensation a court awards them.
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’re not sure how to find traffic accident reports online, let a New York car accident attorney go to work for you. We can investigate your case to discover the facts surrounding your injuries and help you look up your accident report. We can also review your accident, speak with eyewitnesses, and hire expert witnesses to assess your case’s value.
Morelli Law Firm can help you with your case. Contact our law firm to get started with your claim. Request a case evaluation from an auto accident lawyer today.