What Does the Law Say About Crash Reports in Texas?
According to Texas Transportation Code §550.062, any police officer investigating a car accident in the course of duty must fill out and submit a written report of the crash (CR-3) if it resulted in:
- Severe bodily injury
- Death of anyone involved in the accident
- Property damages worth $1,000 or more
The report must be submitted within ten days of the accident to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the custodian for all vehicle collision records in Texas. All collision reports end up in the TxDOT system, where they remain for at least ten years. A San Antonio personal injury lawyer explains how you access a copy of a crash report.
Who Can Obtain a Copy of a Crash Report?
Crash reports are confidential. However, if you got involved in an accident or are an interested party in a given auto accident, you can obtain the CR-3 upon submitting a written request. You also must pay a required fee, after which the report will be submitted to you if:
- You were a victim in the accident
- You’re an authorized agent of a person involved in the accident who may be unable to obtain the report by themselves.
- You were one of the drivers in the accident.
- You are the legal guardian, parent, or employer of a person involved in the accident.
- You’re financially responsible for a car involved in the accident, for example, a policyholder.
There could be instances when you need to obtain a crash report, but don’t fall into any of the categories above. You could consult an experienced San Antonio auto accident attorney for your rights and options in such a situation. They could help you acquire the report depending on your reasons.
Obtaining a Copy of the Crash Report
After being involved in a car accident, your auto accident attorney may ask you for a copy of the crash report to help build your personal injury case as you pursue compensation.
The TxDOT makes it easy to obtain copies of crash reports using the following methods:
Ordering the Report Online
You can access a copy of the CR-3 if the department has already availed it online for your purchase. The small charge facilitates you to use the TxDOT report purchasing system. Due to the confidentiality of the reports, the system must be able to correctly identify you and your crash based on the information you provide.
Ordering Via Mail
If the online system can’t recognize you, the other option is to order the CR-3 through mail. The process requires you to fill out the appropriate request form and mail it to the department. The form must be accompanied by the required payment, depending on whether you want a standard or certified copy (necessary for legal proceedings).
How Long Does It Take to Process a Crash Report?
Accident reports may be availed after a while through the TxDOT website. Law enforcement officers often require time to process them. The officer who wrote the report first must submit it. Given their daily workload, it may be several weeks before you can get the report online.
If you believe your crash report has taken extraordinarily long to be processed, you may contact the TxDOT directly. The crash report’s ID number can help track it if you wrote it down at the accident scene. Your San Antonio auto accident attorney could also intervene and help you make a follow-up.
Why is a Crash Report Important in a Personal Injury Case?
If you get involved in a car accident, you and the other people involved may have varying recollections of the events leading to the accident. Objective crash details can help your auto accident attorney in San Antonio establish fault and assign the necessary financial liability to the at-fault party.
Crucial information your personal injury attorney may be able to collect from the CR-3 includes:
- The date, time, and place where the accident happened
- Weather and road conditions that may have contributed to the accident
- Vivid description of the injuries
- Contact information of accident witnesses, all passengers, and the other drivers
- Vehicle descriptions and information that may help in identifying them
- Pictorial representation of the accident scene
- The narrative of the investigating officer
The information can make or break your personal injury case. So, ensure you obtain a copy of the report as soon as it becomes available. Share a copy with your legal team and retain one for your records. It can help you prepare for the battle ahead.
Can My Insurer Obtain My Accident Crash Report?
Your insurance provider can use the information in the accident report when determining fault and liability. The insurance adjuster may also require each party’s official statement in making the final determination.
They may try to diminish or deny your claim, depending on the statements in the report. An aggressive car accident lawyer can fight to enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.
A Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Helping You Obtain Your Crash Report
After being involved in a car accident, the last thing on your mind is obtaining the crash report or collecting evidence for the case. You may not know that the crash report is crucial in helping your San Antonio auto accident attorney create a strong case in pursuing compensation. A copy of the report is available on the TxDOT website, or you could have it mailed.
The personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Matthew S. Norris can handle your personal injury case and collect all the necessary evidence, including the CR-3 copy. Our legal team dedicates itself to helping car accident victims recover the total compensation they deserve for their damages, and we can help you, too. Call us at (210) 361-3393 to schedule a FREE consultation.