car key and crash reportIf you are making an insurance claim after an auto injury, of course it is helpful to have the report the officer wrote from her accident investigation. The officer handed that to you at the scene of the accident, right? You have a card or a full sheet that says “Crash Report” on the top. Surprise: That is NOT the accident report–at least not the whole thing.

For various reasons, mostly time restraints, much of what an officer does during the investigation cannot be written into the report at the accident site. In fact, it may be days or, in the case of a collision involving a death, months before the full report is completed. And even a simple accident report is usually 2 to 3 pages long. The first page, the one you were handed, has the basic information about the drivers, including insurance information. The second and third pages will have a description of the collision, tickets written, diagrams, measurements, witness statements, etc. Those other pages you were NOT given at the scene.

So how do you get the full report? Simple. You can go to the web site of the police department that did the investigation, find the records division, and follow the instructions to order the report. The sheet you were handed at the scene will have a report number that will help you get the full report. The records department will send it to you when it is ready. Or, you can go right to the department and ask for the report in person. Either way, there is often a small charge for the report.

For reasons having to do with the rules of evidence, much of what is in the accident report is not actually admissible in court (like, for example, whether a ticket was written to the defendant–odd, right?). But, as always, it is good for you to have the same information the insurance company has when you are negotiating your injury claim, and they will get the full report–so you should, too.

Of course, I am talking about Arizona law, and this general information may not be right for your specific claim and is not legal advice. I’d be happy to talk to you, so give me a call at Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, 480-733-6800, or reach me at kfine@davismiles.com. You can also get my book, Arizona Auto Injury Claims, at www.autoinjurybook.com.