Aleksey Katmissky | July 9, 2020 | Car Accident
If you are in a traffic accident in Los Angeles, one of three different law enforcement departments could respond to the accident scene. The location of the accident generally dictates which law enforcement agency responds. The easiest way to report the accident and request assistance is to call 911.
If possible, note which law enforcement agency responded to your car wreck. It will make getting a copy of the traffic accident report easier for you.
Request a Copy of The Accident Report from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Copies of traffic collision reports from the LA County Sheriff’s Department must be requested by mail or in person. You can visit the office in Norwalk on East Imperial Highway during normal business hours to request the report. You must have an acceptable form of identification and the fee for the report.
Requests by mail must be submitted with your full name, address to mail the report, date of birth, signature, and a valid notarized form of identification. Detailed instructions are available on the sheriff’s website.
Request a Copy of the Collision Report from the California Highway Patrol
You must complete an Application for Release of Information to get a copy of a collision report from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You must also send a photocopy of your driver’s license or a picture identification card with the application. You may also visit any CHP office to request a copy of the collision report.
Fees must be paid by check or money order. A list of the fees and detailed instructions can be found on the CHP website. Only people involved in the crash or an interested party can get a copy of the collision report without a court order.
Request a Copy of The Accident Report from the Los Angeles Police Department
If the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) investigated the accident, you can request a copy of the traffic collision report online or through the mail.
For traffic accidents that occurred before February 1, 2016, the request must be submitted through the United States Mail. Also, if the traffic collision report involves a fatality, arrest, or minor, the request must be submitted by mail. It generally takes at least 45 days from the date of the crash to review and approve reports for release.
Records requested by mail must include the Application for Release of Crime or Traffic Collision Report. Detailed instructions and other requirements are on the LAPD’s website. The link for the online request is on the website.
Why Do I Need a Copy of My Traffic Accident Report?
A traffic accident report contains a substantial amount of information about the wreck and the parties involved in the accident. It may also note the parties that the officer determined contributed to the cause of the accident. In some cases, an investigating officer may note something that becomes an important piece of evidence we can use in the case to prove fault and liability.
However, police reports can contain incorrect information. It is essential to review the report immediately for mistakes.
If the officer made a factual mistake, he might correct the report upon request. Contact the officer directly to discuss the error you found on the traffic report. If you disagree with the officer’s opinion as to fault, he is unlikely to change the report based on your arguments.
A Police Report is Not Evidence
While we can use the information from the police report to assist in the investigation, the police report itself is not evidence. The officer would need to testify as to the results of his investigation. Furthermore, the officer is not an eyewitness, so he can only testify as to things that he witnessed after the crash or provide his opinion based on experience and training.
Even though the traffic accident report may note that the other driver was at fault for the cause of the crash, you will need additional evidence if the insurance company denies liability. Hiring a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles who has experience handling traffic accidents can be helpful.
Search for an attorney who has experience in your specific type of crash, such as accidents involving:
Your attorney can handle obtaining a copy of the traffic accident report and other evidence needed to support your claim.
Other evidence may include medical records, videos, eyewitness statements, and expert evaluations. The sooner a lawyer begins gathering evidence and conducting an independent accident investigation, the better chance you have of securing crucial evidence before it disappears or it is destroyed.