After an accident with a commercial truck, you may be able to recover damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Your ability to recover damages depends on who caused the crash and if you were partially at fault.
One of the main ways to determine who was at fault in an accident is through a police report filed after your truck accident. Because of this, it’s important to both file a police report and make sure you get a copy before pursuing a claim. A truck accident lawyer near you can help you obtain an official copy and ensure that all the information is correct in order to get you the best recovery possible.
Why Do I Need to Get a Police Report?
Insurance companies often rely on the details included in a police report to make a determination about who was at fault in an accident. By getting a copy of the police report related to your truck accident, you have a chance to review the information to make sure that it’s accurate and reflects what actually happened.
A police report can prove that the other driver caused the accident and is liable for any damages to your or your vehicle. When you’ve been in an accident, it’s always a good idea to call the local police department or sheriff’s department from the scene of the crash so they can get the most accurate details as soon as possible after the incident. This allows them to preserve vital information and see physical evidence of the accident, weather or road conditions that may have contributed, and any other relevant information.
Despite the helpfulness of a police report, not all jurisdictions in Texas require police officers to complete them. In those that do, Texas Transportation Code only requires officers to submit a written accident report — known as a crash report — if an accident results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage. In these instances, police officers can write the report either after investigating the scene of the accident or by interviewing the involved parties and any witnesses at a later time.
What Information Is Included in the Police Report?
Police reports contain information that can be vital to determining fault in your truck accident, including:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- Contact information for both drivers, including names and insurance providers
- Injuries and extent of damage
- Witness statements and contact information
- The officer’s account of the accident
- Any citations that were given to either driver
- Contributing factors, including weather or impaired driving
- If multiple trucks were involved, the weight and the number of axles of both vehicles
A police report may also include the officer’s opinion of who was at fault in the accident, as well as a sketch of the accident.
How to Obtain Your Police Report
How you can get a physical copy of a police report depends on the jurisdiction. You may be able to obtain a copy of the police report related to your truck accident by phone, by mail, in person, or online. In most instances, you’ll need to have some identifying information to access the police report, including:
- The date of the accident
- The location of the accident
- The name of a person involved in the accident
Because each jurisdiction has its own method for obtaining a copy of the report, you should contact the police department where the crash occurred to find out how to get yours. In Houston, for example, you can purchase a copy of the report via an online service. Dallas, on the other hand, only allows you to request a copy in person or via mail.
Depending on the method used to obtain your police report, you may receive it immediately or within a couple of weeks. There is typically a small fee (of under $10) to obtain a copy of a Texas police report.
If you know that a crash report was filed with the Texas Department of Transportation, you can make a request online and receive it immediately for a nominal fee. The DOT holds onto crash reports for 10 years.
A truck accident lawyer near you can obtain a copy of your police report on your behalf as soon as it’s available so you don’t have to constantly check to see if it’s available or worry about getting it.
Why Work with a Texas Truck Accident Lawyer?
Police reports aren’t always accurate and may contain codes and language that you aren’t familiar with. A Texas truck accident lawyer can help decode the police report and check it for accuracy to make sure the details included show what really happened. Because your accident claim depends on accurate information, it’s important to catch any mistakes or inaccuracies as early as possible.
If you notice mistakes in the police report, your big truck accident lawyer can get the original report amended to make any needed corrections. In some instances, a truck accident lawyer can provide a written supplement to the report that corrects any errors instead of having the original officer make changes (which is required under Texas law). Having an attorney write a supplement to the report can be faster and more efficient when it comes to getting your claim resolved.
If needed, your attorney can also perform an independent investigation of your accident to ensure that the details included in the police report are accurate. This may include reaching out to witnesses and reconstructing the accident to determine who was actually at fault.
How FVF Can Help
At FVF, our Austin truck accident lawyers can help you obtain any documentation needed to show that the other party was at fault in your accident. We’ll work with insurance companies and local police departments so you don’t have to. Our goal is to get you the best recovery possible as quickly as possible after a truck accident. Contact us today to schedule a free, remote consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Austin.