Police accident reports are required for the majority of car collisions in Maryland. The information contained within these reports can be vital for proving negligence and liability in a personal injury claim. But are car accident reports public record?
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about car accident reports, including when one needs to be filed and who can later access that information. If you have any additional questions about obtaining information relevant to your personal injury claim, do not hesitate to contact the offices of Belsky & Horowitz, LLC for further guidance.
When to File a Car Accident Report
Not every accident necessitates a police report. Many minor fender benders can be easily dealt with between two drivers and their insurance companies without any interference from law enforcement. Maryland state law only requires you to report a car accident if any of the following conditions are met:
- There are serious injuries
- Someone was killed
- A drunk driver was involved in the accident
- A driver is unable or refuses to exchange information
- A vehicle needs to be towed
- A driver fled the scene
The easiest way to file a car accident report is to summon a police officer to the scene of the accident. Call 9-1-1 if there are injuries that require immediate medical attention; otherwise, use your local non-emergency line. The responding officer will use information collected at the scene of the accident to write and file a car accident report on your behalf.
If you do not summon an officer to the accident scene, you’ll have 15 days from the date of the crash to submit a written statement to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Every driver involved in the accident must submit a statement, not just the at-fault party.
Failure to report an accident that meets any of the above requirements may result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Your vehicle’s registration may also be suspended for failing to file a car accident report within the 15-day period.
Who Can Request Copies of a Car Accident Report?
A car accident report is a crucial piece of evidence in any personal injury claim. In Maryland, all parties involved in an accident, as well as their lawyers, may request and obtain copies of a car accident report. You may request a copy of your accident report in one of three ways:
- At an MSP Barrack. Ten days from the date of the accident, you may present in person at the Maryland State Police Barrack that originally responded to the crash. The copy of the report will cost $4.
- With the Central Records Division. You may complete the request form for an accident report and submit it and the $4 fee online and then pick up your copy from the Central Records Division. You may also go in person to fill out the request form and pay the fee.
- By mail. Complete the request to obtain a copy of the accident report and mail it and your $4 fee to the address listed on the form. You may only use a check or money order.
If you are ever confused about how to request a copy of your accident report, do not hesitate to ask your lawyer for help. They may be able to request the accident report on your behalf.
Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Maryland?
Information contained within these types of reports is not inherently private, though. Other individuals not involved in the crash may still be able to obtain a copy of an accident report.
Car accident reports are considered part of the public record in Maryland. This means that members of the general public can request any type of public record document from either local or state governments. The right to obtain certain information (including public records) is protected by the Maryland Public Information Act.
How Does a Car Accident Report Help Your Personal Injury Claim?
Recalling specific details of the immediate aftermath of a car accident can be challenging. Fortunately, much of the information you’re struggling to recall can likely be found within the accident report. This includes details about the crash such as:
- The people, vehicles, and property involved in the accident
- Statements from drivers, vehicles occupants, and any eyewitnesses
- A diagram of the accident, including the path the vehicles took and where they collided
In some cases, an officer will include their findings about who caused the accident. This may benefit your case if the officer concludes that the other driver caused the collision. However, if they name you as the at-fault party, you and your lawyer will need to collect additional evidence to prove why this initial finding was wrong. As experienced attorneys, we frequently rely on information found in:
- Dashcam footage
- Pictures and videos taken at the scene of the accident
- Accident reconstruction experts
Tireless Representation for Accident Victims
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we answer all of our clients’ questions as clearly and wholly as possible. Whether you’re curious about how to access a copy of your accident report or want to know why it is so important in your personal injury claim, we’ll be here for you every step of the way.
We know what it takes to successfully negotiate a personal injury claim, and our attorneys will always be prepared to take your case to court if necessary. In us, you’ll find determined advocates who will not rest until you receive full and fair compensation for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more.
Whether you would like help obtaining a copy of your accident report or are curious about your legal rights after a car accident, our attorneys are here to answer your questions. Fill out our online form or call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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