If you’ve been in the unfortunate event of being involved in a car accident, you should be familiar with the importance of an accident report. This form is the backbone of any claims you may have regarding your accident, regardless if you or the other party is at fault. Therefore, it is vital to obtain a copy and ensure that the police accident report is accurate.
What Is An Accident Report?
An accident report, also known as the crash report or an incident report, is the formal document completed by the officer present at the accident, accounting for all pertinent information regarding the incident. It contains the official report after law enforcement has conducted its investigation.
Why Is An Accident Report Important?
An accident report is typically required for insurance claims or lawsuits, given its official capacity for the accident. It is also essential since it contains information that provides a third party who was not at the scene of the accident to assess what happened.
Is An Accident Report Required To Be Filed Under Louisiana Law?
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes Sections 32:398, an accident report is required for accidents that result in either:
- an injury or death of any person, or
- Property damage over $500
Who Writes Up The Accident Report?
The law enforcement officer who was present at the car accident scene and investigated the incident will write the report. If the Louisiana State Police investigated the accident, the investigating law enforcement officer is supposed to forward their written report of the accident to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections within forty-eight hours upon their completion of their investigation. In reality, it usually takes at least seven to ten days before the officer can complete the investigation and submit the report. However, suppose the accident occurred within the limits of a parish, city or town. In that case, the investigating officer will forward their report to the sheriff’s office or the police department. A copy is supposed to go the Department of Public Safety and Corrections within the same forty-eight hours limit upon the conclusion of their investigation. However, that often does not happen.
What Information Is Included In An Accident Report?
A police accident report contains all the pertinent information referring to the accident, including:
- All of the names, contact information, car insurance coverage information, and the model of the vehicles involved in the accident;
- All of the names and contact information of the passengers involved in the car accident;
- An accurate and detailed account of how the accident occurred based on the investigation of the officer. The accident report may include witness account, the evidence available, and other pertinent information such as the condition of the pavement, weather, and traffic condition when the accident happened; and
- The accident report will also indicate whether a ticket or arrest has been issued due to the accident.
How Long Does It Take Before An Accident Report Is Completed?
Generally, a police accident report is available seven days after the officer has completed their collision investigation. It is beneficial to request the accident report through your legal counsel to ensure that it is asked for and delivered correctly. Moreover, an attorney can address any issues on the information to the investigating law enforcement officer to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the accident report.
How Can I Obtain An Accident Report?
There are numerous ways one can obtain an accident report for their car accident. Some of the ways they can get a copy of the report are through the following:
- An online request can be done from the Louisiana State Police through their website. However, only accidents that occurred on non-toll roads on or after January 1, 2015, can be requested through their online portal. A written request or an in-person request may be needed to obtain an accident report for other incidents that occurred before January 1, 2015.
- If the accident occurred in a city or town limits, the local Sheriff’s Department or the appropriate City Police Department might have a record of the police accident report. Depending on how each town’s sheriff’s department or city’s police department operates, you may be able to request a copy of the police accident report online. However, some departments require in-person or mail-in requests for police accident reports.
- There are also a couple of private companies that provide police reports through their websites. However, there is no guarantee that the report pertaining to your accident is available, or if there are any issues with the information included in the report, you would still have to reach out to the investigating law enforcement’s department. Thus, this method may be more costly, time-consuming, and ineffective.
- The most accessible, most efficient, and trusted way to request and obtain an accident report is through your attorney. Our firm is knowledgeable and experienced in handling accident cases, including issues with accident reports and claims. By reaching out to us, we can timely assist you in obtaining a copy of the police accident report from the proper source and work with the investigating law enforcement officer on your behalf if there are any issues with the police report. More importantly, we can also advise you on any legal matters about your case. We can work with you in assessing the issues caused by the accident or answer any questions you may have regarding third-party claims, insurance claims, or other legal matters arising from the accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Louisiana and unsure of what to do to ensure that your interests are protected and advocated, you should speak with us. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have extensive knowledge in representing the interest of our clients in vehicular accidents. Please feel free to give us a call at (225) 963-9638, or you can click here to contact us and schedule a free consultation.