Car accidents may cause death or life-altering injuries that can lead to millions of dollars in expenses over the course of a lifetime. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes after a car accident that can limit the chances of recovering compensation. It is important to gather and document evidence after a car accident. Police reports can be one of several pieces of evidence that help your car accident claim.
After a serious car accident, the police will arrive on the scene and document information based on their observations. This may include statements from witnesses, documentation of physical evidence, arrests, and other information that could become important for your claim. Some reports are many pages long, which means you may have to pay a fee depending on where the request is filed.
Request an Accident Report With the Appropriate Law Enforcement Agency
There are a couple of ways to obtain an accident report in Santa Clara County and California in general. Depending on which agency you file a request with, the process is going to be different. The local police department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol all allow you to obtain an accident report.
Many law enforcement agencies even allow you to submit requests online. However, you may also be able to request a report over the phone or in person. Depending on the size of your report and other factors, you may need to pay a fee.
Requesting an Accident Report With the California Highway Patrol
Multiple highways and interstates go through or around Santa Clara County and the surrounding cities. If you are involved in an accident on a highway or interstate, then you may obtain a report from the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
You do not have to file the collision request form in person. If you are from another part of the state, or another state in general, then you can fill out the form and send it to the appropriate CHP office. You can download a copy of the collision request form on the CHP’s website. The form will ask you for detailed information about the accident, such as the date of the accident and your relationship to the person involved in the collision (if applicable).
Requesting an Accident Report With the Santa Clara Police Department
The Santa Clara Police Department uses a LexisNexis service called eCrash for accident report requests. You can obtain information about your accident by registering an account and paying the appropriate fees.
Before beginning the process, you should carefully read over the instructions on the LexisNexis eCrash website. There is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that can walk you through the process involved with setting up your account, searching for your accident report, and then obtaining a copy.
Reports should be available within 24 hours of sending your request. However, the report may be available only after a couple of hours.
Requesting an Accident Report With the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office
You can request an accident report from the County of Santa Clara at the sheriff’s office. In this case, you may go in person to obtain a copy of the report. You would need to go to Sheriff’s Office Headquarters at 55 W. Younger Avenue in San Jose, or West Valley Substation, 1601 S. De Anza Boulevard in Cupertino. The latter location is only open from 8 to 5 p.m. during weekdays. You can request a report at the sheriff office headquarters 24 hours a day.
If your accident report exceeds 50 pages, then you will need to pay a small fee. After 50 pages, the sheriff’s office charges 10 cents per page.
Requesting an Accident Report in San Jose
Due to the close proximity of San Jose and Santa Clara, there is always the chance you would need to obtain a report from the San Jose Police Department. You will need to use phone or U.S. mail if you choose to not go in person.
If you are going in person, then you will need to go to 201 West Mission Street, San Jose, CA 95110 between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The records office is open seven days a week. You may also mail your accident report request to this address. For a telephone request, call (408) 277-4261.
What Can I Do With My Accident Report?
Your accident report could contain evidence that determines who was at fault for the collision. If you choose to file a car accident claim, the information in the report may become crucial to the success of your case. You can provide your attorney with a copy of your accident report, as it may help them obtain additional evidence.
Keep in mind, accident reports are not the only useful piece of evidence for filing a car accident claim. If you are able, then you should try to document as much information as possible after the wreck. Medical records and photographs are also very useful.
While police reports can be useful, it is important to remember that additional evidence can make or break your claim. Therefore, you should never wait to speak with an attorney.
About Needham Kepner & Fish LLP
Needham Kepner & Fish LLP is a Santa Clara County personal injury law firm. Our car accident attorneys have a proven record of obtaining successful settlements and verdicts for our clients. You can learn more about our cases on our website.