It is important to call the police after any type of car accident, but state law requires reporting if a crash causes personal injuries and property damage of at least $1,000. Your car accident police report will contain information that is important for your auto insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit in West Virginia. Obtaining a copy of your car accident police report is one of the first steps you take as a crash victim in pursuit of financial compensation. Speak with an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney to learn more.
Get Your Police Report Number at the Scene
When police officers arrive at the scene of your car accident, give them your side of the story. Stick to the facts and do not admit fault for the crash. Before you leave the scene, ask an officer for your police report number. The officer should give you a business card, but if not, take it upon yourself to write down the officer’s full name and department. The police station should be able to give you the information of the officer who responded to your call if you must leave the scene early.
Call the Police Station
Once you have received medical care for your injuries and you are able to focus on financial recovery, call the police station and ask to speak to the reporting officer. Explain who you are and give your report number, if available. The responding officer can often help you obtain a copy of the accident report through the police station. You may have to drive to pick up the report, or your local station may be able to mail or email you a copy.
Only certain parties can obtain copies of police accident reports. These parties are generally the injured victims and their close family members. You will likely have to submit an official Record Request Form (which may be available online) before you can get your report. Some police stations charge a small fee for copies, while others will give you the report for free. If the police station cannot help you get a car accident report, your next option is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Go Through the DMV
Some DMV offices in West Virginia provide accident reports to victims. Once the DMV receives your report from police officers, you may be able to contact your local office (or the office in the county in which your crash occurred) to request a copy. Most states, West Virginia included, make it mandatory to file accident reports within a certain number of days from the accident. The DMV should have a copy of your report within 10 days if the crash involved injuries or property damage of $500 or more.
Inquire with your DMV to find out if it has your police report, or if your accident did not qualify for required reporting. You may find that the DMV never received the report from the police, in which case it may be up to you to file the report. If your crash qualifies as one the DMV needs to know about, but no one ever reports it, you could face license suspension or revocation. Failing to submit a report for a serious accident is against the law.
Try the County Courthouse
If the police station and the DMV do not work, try to submit your report request through the county courthouse or clerk’s office. These buildings keep public records and may be able to get you a copy of the report. Call the courthouse and ask the clerk if your report is available. If all else fails, your auto insurance company may have a copy of your police report to send to you.