The Importance of Obtaining a Police Report

police report detailsIf you are in injured in a car accident, one of the most important pieces of evidence to support your claim for compensation is the police report. A police report is a detailed written account of the police officer’s observations and conclusions regarding the accident. While a police report is not necessarily conclusive evidence as to fault, it can certainly go a long way in persuading an insurance company whether or not a settlement is appropriate. It may also help the insurance company determine the appropriate amount of the settlement. A police report would also be strong evidence if a personal injury case ends up being litigated in court.

What Is Included in a Police Report?

important to obtain police reportA car accident police report will include factual details as to who was involved in the accident, the vehicles involved, the officer’s observations such as weather conditions and road conditions, and in many cases the officer’s conclusions as to fault. Examples of details that a police officer is likely to include in a police report include:
  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names of and statements from those directly involved in the accident
  • Witness statements
  • Descriptions of injuries
  • Descriptions of property damage
  • Detailed descriptions of the vehicles involved
  • A diagram of the accident scene, including the point of impact
  • A narrative of the details and causes of the accident
  • Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident
  • Description of any other contributing factors, such as speeding or broken brake lights

How Do I Obtain a Copy of the Police Report in Philadelphia or Delaware County?

In order to obtain the official police report, you will have to contact the proper law enforcement office. There are three general requirements for obtaining a police report from any jurisdiction:
  1. 1. You must have been directly involved in the accident, or representing someone who was directly involved
  2. 2. You must pay a fee (many times but not always)
  3. 3. You must wait up to 15 days after the incident for the report to be available
City of Philadelphia – If the police report was taken by a Philadelphia Police Department Officer, then you can request it in person or by mail from the Philadelphia Department of Records, which is located in City Hall, Room 168. The office is open weekdays from 8:00am to 2:00pm. The fee is $25. If you request the report by mail, you must include the location of the accident, the names of the people involved, and the police district control number. (The police district control number consists of the year, the police district where the accident occurred, and the number of the report from that district). Also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a check for $25 payable to the City of Philadelphia. car accident report from PA state trooper

Pennsylvania State Police – If the report was written by a Pennsylvania State Police Officer, you must request if from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A police report for a vehicle accident is referred to as a “Crash Report.” You must complete Form SP 7-0015 and submit it to:

Pennsylvania State Police Attn: Crash Reports Unit 1800 Elmerton Avenue Harrisburg, PA 17110

Include a check for $22 payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Do not submit your request until 15 days have elapsed since the accident.

Delaware County – If the accident occurred in Delaware County, you must contact the police department of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. For example, if the accident occurred in the Borough of Media, you should contact the Borough of Media Police Department, while if it occurred in Aston, you should contact the Aston Township Police Department. Here is a link to a list of all the Delaware County, PA municipalities and their websites: http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/towns/index.html

What Should I Do If I believe Information in the Accident Report Is Inaccurate?

errors in a police reportIf there is information in the police report that you believe to be inaccurate, you can seek to have the police report modified. If the incorrect information is an error of fact such as a license plate number, last name, or vehicle color, you would need to contact the officer who prepared the report and produce proof that the information is incorrect. The police officer would then attach an amendment to the report with the corrected information. If the information that you feel is incorrect is not an easily verifiable fact, then the police officer is not likely to amend the report based on your opinion. For example, if the report includes a witness account of the accident that mentions that you ran through a red light, the officer is not likely to change the report simply because you disagree with the witness. However, the officer has discretion to attach to the report a statement from you detailing your side of the story.

Help Is a Click Away

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, a police report may be critical to your personal injury claim. If you need an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, contact Donaghue & Labrum. We will listen to the facts of your case, review the police report and explain to you your legal options for pursuing compensation from the party responsible for your injuries.