In a serious accident involving injury or significant property damage, having a police report filed is an important part of making sure the details of the event are accurately recorded. Once you’ve contacted the authorities, they’ll investigate the scene and file their report. It’s important to understand how to find out if a report has been filed and how to access it, as the information on there can help you build a case against the other driver if you’re seeking compensation for the crash.
When are Police Reports Filed for Car Crashes in Maryland?
In Maryland, car accidents aren’t typically investigated by law enforcement when the only consequence is minor property damage – so drivers involved in crashes like that do not need to contact the police or file a report. Instead, drivers are required to move off the road and exchange information with each other. The Maryland State Police provides a Collision Information Exchange Form to make the process easier.
If one of both of the vehicles are immovable or injuries have occurred, drivers need to call 911 immediately and refrain from trying to move their cars. Hazards lights should be put on to warn oncoming drivers of the danger. Law enforcement officials will arrive and make an official report.
In addition to an incident involving significant property damage or injuries, police will also file a report in the event a driver appears intoxicated or doesn’t have a license, the accident is a hit-and-run, or public property is damaged.
The Content of a Car Accident Report
At the scene of an accident, the officer will conduct an investigation that involves multiple tasks. They will inspect the vehicles, talk with the drivers, take photographs, measure distances between vehicles or skid marks, and speak with any witnesses. After they’ve followed through with the investigation, the report will contain the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- Contact information for the involved parties, which is likely to include names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information
- Information about the types of vehicles involved
- Witness statements and their contact information
- Locations and descriptions of the damage to the vehicles
- A diagram of the accident scene
- Roadway, lighting, and weather conditions
- Suspected law violations
- Opinions for who was at fault
After the accident report has been filed, you will be able to get a copy for your records. You will need this report in the event you file a car accident claim against the other driver.
Accessing a Police Report in Baltimore
After an accident, you may need a copy of the police report for the insurance company or your lawyer. You may also just want to keep a copy for your personal records. There are three ways to go about requesting a report if it was made by the state.
You can request a police report by mail. You’ll want to get in touch with the Central Records Division to ensure the report is available. Reports are typically not available until ten days after the incident. You can download the appropriate forms, fill them out, and mail them with the fee amount. You’ll also want to include a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope with the form and your payment. Your official report will be sent by mail.
You can also pick up the report in person. During regular business hours, you can contact the Central Records Division and inform them you’d like to pick up a copy of the accident report. When you arrive, you’ll need to pay the fee to receive the document.
If you’re unable to go to the Central Records Unit and snail mail is too slow, you can request the report via email. You’ll need to fill out the same request form and include that information in your email. You will receive your report as a PDF, at no cost to you.
If your car accident report was filed by local police, like the Baltimore City Police, you can request the document from the Central Records Section for a fee. If photographs were taken, you can request those as well for an additional fee.
How Car Accident Reports are Typically Used
In the event of a crash where you or the other driver files a claim with the insurance company, the adjuster will get a copy of the police report. They will use this, in conjunction with their own investigation, to determine fault. If you plan on hiring an attorney to handle your legal matters and negotiations, they will also need a copy of the police report to conduct their investigation and build a strong case on your behalf.
If you’ve been injured in a wreck and are attempting to seek compensation for what you were wrongfully put through, it can be overwhelming to gather all the necessary documents. Our lawyers understand you need time to heal and process what you’ve been through, so we’ll handle the paperwork for you. To learn more about the benefits of hiring an attorney after a car accident, get in touch with our law firm today.