How to Request an Accident Report When You’ve Been Involved in an Accident in Orange County
One of the most important pieces of evidence you can collect after a traffic collision is a police report. These documents hold great weight in auto accident claims, as they can clearly outline who caused an accident and the amount of damage involved, including injuries. But in the chaos following a crash, you may forget to speak to the police or California Highway Patrol about securing a copy of the report. That is why Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie has outlined the entire process, step-by-step, so that you can quickly get ahold of your accident report and begin filing a claim.
How Does a Police Report Help My Case?
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, having someone with a clear mind review the details of the incident can be incredibly important. Anyone involved in the crash, whether injured or not, will be filled with adrenaline and may be in shock, making it harder for them to piece the facts together or determine what caused the collision.
However, police officers are trained to assess the situation as calmly as possible. They can ensure that any injured driver or passenger receives medical treatment immediately; block traffic to secure the scene; speak to everyone involved to collect contact details, insurance information, and witness statements; and assign fault in a police report.
When you go to file an auto accident claim against the at-fault driver, you will need to clearly outline why the other driver is liable for your injuries. That driver’s insurance company is unlikely to trust you on word alone. However, police reports have authority in these claims. If the police stated that the other driver caused the accident, such as by driving drunk or distracted, then their insurance company will have a harder time denying your claim. While it should not be the only piece of evidence you provide, it can be one of the most valuable.
Who Investigates Accidents in OC?
It is important to note that in California, police reports are not automatically available after a crash, and they are not always shared between departments. While your accident may have occurred in Orange County, it may not have been handled by a specific police department. For example, if your accident occurred on the I-5, then your case was likely investigated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In contrast, if you were injured off MacArthur Blvd, then either the Irvine Police Department or the Newport Beach Police Department reviewed the accident.
Each department has its own procedures for giving out traffic reports. While some offices offer copies online, others like the Orange County Sheriff’s Department do not automatically mail these out and they must be requested. Luckily, the process is fairly simple for each department.
What Do I Need to Request a Report?
First, you will want to determine which department you will need to speak with. If you are unsure, your best option is to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 834-6454 or your local CHP office. In Orange County, the three CHP offices are:
- Santa Ana CHP Office 675
2031 E. Santa Clara Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
- Capistrano CHP Office 690
32951 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
- Westminster CHP Office 670
13200 Goldenwest Street
Westminster, CA 92683
Once you have determined which department has your report, you can either visit the office in person to request a report or submit a form online or by mail.
Receiving CHP Reports
If your case was handled by the CHP, then any office can request a copy of the report for you. In order to do so, you will want to fill out CHP Form 190 and submit it in person or mail it to the office. The form should include your name, the date of the accident, where the accident occurred, who owned the vehicle (you or the driver, if you were a passenger), your signature, your address, and “Party of Interest.” Party of interest essentially defines your relationship to the accident and can include:
- Property owners
- Parents or legal guardians of minor children
- Legal representatives
After filling out this form, you should attach a photocopy of your driver’s license or identification card to confirm your details, as well as a check or cash to cover the report fee. In most cases, reports cost $10.00 to request, though the fee may increase if the report is more than 25 pages. Once you have submitted the form, a copy of your ID, and the fee, the department will send you a copy of the report.
Receiving OC Sheriff Department Reports
If your case was handled by the OCSD, you can request a report by filling out a Request Authorization Form and submitting it to the OCSD via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by mailing a copy to “P.O. Box 449, Santa Ana, CA 92702.” In addition, you can also request a report online. The department charges $0.15 per page for a copy of the report.
In order to request a report from the OCSD, you must be a:
- Vehicle owner
- Parent of a minor driver
- Someone who suffered property damage or an injury (pedestrian, bicyclists, etc.)
- Legal representative of an accident victim
There may be other procedures for the local police department that handled your report, which may also have different fees. However, if you work with an Orange County auto accident attorney at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, we can handle this entire process on your behalf and pay for the fees up front. Our legal team has more than 40 years of experience reviewing auto accident claims and knows how to thoroughly dig into the details of a police report. We can follow up on any investigations, review the at-fault driver’s details, and collect additional evidence to support your claim.
If you have been injured by a negligent driver in Orange County, we can provide the diligent legal representation you need. To get started on your case, call our office at (949) 752-7474. We offer every potential client a free consultation, so there is no cost to sitting down with us.
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