Accident reports in the United States can be generally searched online by state. For example, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) permits the public to access traffic collision data with the intent of making it easier to find your own records. The ODPS also has a web portal to crash reports, state patrol reports, and crash statistics.
If you are wondering about how to look up an accident report and cannot find your report online, you might need to go to the police station to see your accident report.
If Your Accident Report Is Not Yet Online, Contact the Police
If you cannot find your accident report through the ODPS crash report web portals, you might need to get in touch with the officer or police department who filed the report to check on its status.
It may be a good idea to record the accident report number so that you can reference your accident as you call the police station and work with the police. If you did not receive this number or do not have access to it, there is other key information you can communicate at the station to look up your accident, such as:
- Date of the accident
- Time of day
- Officer name
- Names of individuals involved
You may want to visit the precinct and try to view or photocopy the report yourself. It may take time for the state government to upload accident reports to their website, and with a personal injury claim, there is no such time to waste.
Correct Information on the Accident Report if Necessary
After an auto collision, insurance companies closely inspect the accident report. Therefore, it is wise and prudent to ensure that your accident report contains:
- All relevant vehicles you recall
- A diagram or depiction showing where vehicle damage occurred
- Facts relevant to your story, including injury and passenger information
- Extenuating or circumstantial facts to build scientific verifiability, such as anything you noticed before the accident that may have been out of place
- Nothing untrue whatsoever (better to say “I don’t know” than risk saying something false)
Early warning about any potential errors on an accident report may save you a headache, hassle, and financial risk later on. If you noticed an error in your accident report, there may still be time to take remedial steps to correct it. The officer who wrote the report has discretionary authority on whether to attach your addendum, which is important to understand early in the process.
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Possible Errors in an Accident Report May Affect Your Case
At times, a police officer may miswrite something on the accident report. Typographical errors—such as misspellings of a name, license or insurance number, or similar pertinent fact—do not have a significant effect on the case.
Informational exclusions or miscommunications are serious issues that often require an addendum to the report. These corrections typically fall on the reporting officer to allow your addendum, so keep this in mind as you contact the police precinct to attempt to amend your accident report. For example, if you mentioned being injured or in pain to the police officer and it was not listed in the report, you may want to request an addendum to create a paper trail to verify your claims later in court.
Ultimately, what you may see as an error on the accident report is more often simply the result of an adversarial party supplying converse information to the police. This is a primary arena where attorneys help clients with personal injury claims. Establishing your credibility over disagreeing parties from the standpoint of an arbiter, judge, or jury is essential to a lawyer’s duties to their client.
Read Your Accident Report and Check All Facts
Accident reports typically use a lot of abbreviations or short-hand language to save first responders’ time in potentially urgent situations. This urgency may also lead to handwriting illegibility and a confusing mess to interpret once you see your accident report.
Highlight any quantitative information on the report, and keep in mind that “PDO” stands for “Property Damage Only,” implying that no injuries were sustained in the crash. It can complicate any claim for personal injury damages stemming from the collision if the accident report indicates that no injuries were visible at the scene of the crash. People who find that their accident report materially disagrees with their side of the story may want to get legal representation to take appropriate actions.
Why an Accident Report Matters in Your Personal Injury Claim
After a serious traffic collision, the accident report will serve as a standardized method of data communication to concerned parties, such as insurance companies, actuaries, and legal teams. Insurance agents scrutinize accident reports.
Accident reports help tell your side of the facts to the police. Discrepancies in an accident report do not always damage a person’s credibility, but action must be taken to ensure that an accident report error can be successfully amended. Because police work can be difficult to correct, many people choose to hire a lawyer to act on their behalf.
Juries and courts are also preferential to police testimony, and they have traditionally viewed accident reports as a method of providing an unbiased record of events.
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Seek Legal Damages Within the Statute of Limitations
After injury claimants look up an accident report, they may decide to file a personal injury claim. However, they are limited to two years to start a lawsuit. This 24-month window begins from the date of the accident, according to the Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10. If the claimant does not file within the statute of limitations, the law holds that they forfeit their right to seek any damages. Furthermore, roadway evidence may still be present and photographable to verify your claim.
If you still have concerns about your accident report, speak with a representative at our law firm. Bressman Law represents people in Ohio who were injured in an auto collision and are ready to work on your case right away. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (614) 538-1116.