How to Get a Copy of Your Police Accident Report

How to Get a Copy of Your Police Accident Report

After a car accident that caused injuries or property damage, you may worry about dealing with these financial burdens on your own. Getting a copy of the police report created by the law enforcement officers who responded to your crash is one key step you'll need to take when pursuing compensation, whether through filing an insurance claim or another path. 

The police report, also known as an accident report or crash incident report, carries a lot of weight for the legal process after a collision because it establishes the basic facts of what happened, especially the fault for the crash. That means car accident victims need a car accident lawyer to get a copy to use in the claims process. 

What Information Do Car Accident Police Reports Contain?

Law enforcement officers called to the scene of an accident manage the immediate emergencies and prepare a comprehensive official record. This task involves gathering every significant detail about the circumstances surrounding the crash and issuing citations for illegal or irresponsible road behavior.

The police report for car accidents would typically have:

  • Identifying and contact information for everyone involved: Including the insurance details for each driver, which you need to begin your claim.
  • Statements from all parties involved, as well as witnesses: The parties may dispute what happened during a chaotic event like a car accident, but these initial accounts can paint a picture of what happened and further investigation can support them. Lawyers can corroborate or contradict specific details by contacting third-party witnesses. 
  • Details about the severity of the accident: Documentation for any visible or reported injuries and an assessment of the damage each vehicle sustained, which can both provide an initial basis for the seriousness of a collision. 
  • Citations for traffic violations: Lawyers may use any traffic laws broken in the lead-up to the accident, as noted in the police report, as evidence of negligence and fault.    
  • Police officer's understanding of how the accident unfolded: The report may contain a detailed description of the sequence of events from the officer's perspective of what they heard and observed, including the actions of the drivers and any relevant information about weather or road conditions. They may also write an opinion about who's at fault, which isn't definitive but can still significantly affect the investigation.  
  • Diagrams and photos: Capturing factors like vehicle positions, debris or physical evidence at the scene, and the location of traffic lights, stop signs, and other relevant markers can establish important facts about the accident.

How to Obtain Your Car Accident Police Report in Florida and Nearby States

Getting a copy of the police report requires filling out a request form and providing some identifying information. Car accident police reports contain a lot of sensitive details, so their access is restricted to parties that were directly involved or to their legal representatives, at least immediately afterward. In Florida, these documents become publicly accessible 60 days after the crash.

One of the benefits of having a lawyer by your side throughout the car accident claims process is that they can handle the police report request paperwork for you, allowing you to focus on your recovery while they gather crucial evidence needed to build a solid case. 

The process of getting a copy of your accident's police report will vary slightly from state to state, but the steps in Florida and neighboring steps include: 


Car crash reports are maintained by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and will take up to 10 days to become available for a processing fee of $10.  

  • Online: By filling out the request form on FLHSMV's Crash Portal to receive a download link to your email address that will be active for 48 hours
  • In-person: By going to the Florida High Patrol Troop Station closest to where the accident happened and completing a signed statement
  • Mail (Takes four to six weeks processing time): Fill out the form and include a check or money order to be made out to FLHSMV and mail out the request to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Records, 2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS 28, Tallahassee, FL 32399


The process for requesting a car accident police report depends on whether the Georgia State Patrol or an officer from the local police or sheriff's department responded to the scene. 

  • In-person: You can pick up the report in person within a few days of the incident by going to the appropriate office, filling out the request form, and paying $5. 
  • Online: For a higher fee, Georgia residents can also access police reports prepared by either agency by logging on to, which is a service hired by the Georgia Department of Transportation to provide these documents.


Most car accidents in Alabama are handled by state troopers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), and the official report is available around 15 business days after the crash. 

  • In-person:  Visit the state police office in the jurisdiction where your accident happened, fill out the request form, and pay a $17 fee. 
  • Online: Download a copy of your crash report online on ALEA's website by providing identifying information and paying the processing fee. 

South Carolina

The responding police officers prepare and file crash reports with the South Carolina of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV), which makes the document available for a $6 fee within a few days of the accident.  

  • In-person: Visit your local SCDMV office to fill out the paperwork and pick up a copy. 
  • Online: Fill out the request form on the SCDMV's web portal, and you'll receive your police report in the mail. 
  • Mail: Send the completed form with a check or money order to SCDMV, Financial Responsibility, P.O. Box 1498, Blythewood, SC 29016-0040

How Police Reports Affect the Car Accident Claims Process?

The official crash report created by responding officers is often required as part of the paperwork for filing an insurance claim, so this is typically the most common purpose for needing this document.

In car accident cases that are more contentious and have higher legal stakes, such as after a crash that caused significant injuries and damages, the police report is also one of the most important resources for being able to determine fault and liability.

Car accident lawyers use the information in the police report to understand the circumstances of the accident and lay the groundwork for doing further investigation to strengthen their client's case. Some of the ways this record can be utilized throughout the car accident claim process include the following: 

Evidence That Demonstrates Fault

Traffic violations documented in the police report can be pivotal for showing which driver's actions contributed to the accident, such as speeding, failure to yield, running a red light, or even driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The responding officer's opinion and diagrams of the scene can also provide insights into the sequence of events leading up to the collision. Lawyers analyze all these details closely to piece together what happened and make a persuasive argument for the at-fault driver's negligence. 

Contact Information for Eyewitnesses 

Having the testimony of any third party who watched how the accident unfolded firsthand can influence the car accident claims process, especially in cases with disputed basic facts. The police report contains the statements and contact information for eyewitnesses, which allows lawyers to reach out and gather additional information to potentially corroborate their client's story.   

Support Calculation of Damages

The police report documents the immediate aftermath of the crash, including the injuries and property damage observed at the scene, which serves as an initial assessment of the severity of the accident. This information is not a substitute for in-depth medical records or repair estimates, but it serves as a starting point for substantiating the claimant's losses from the accident. 

Providing Basis for Further Investigation

The information in the police report can also serve as a starting point for doing further investigation, such as the photos of the crash scene, which would typically document physical evidence like skid marks on the road or the location of the damage left on each vehicle. A car accident reconstructionist hired by your lawyer can analyze these details as part of their investigation to establish what happened and who was at fault.  

How to Strengthen Your Case After a Car Accident?

A crash is incredibly stressful and chaotic, especially if you suffer serious injuries that disrupt your daily life. Getting a copy of the police report is one of the crucial, early steps you can take to bolster your legal case and help you secure fair compensation. Some other measures you can take to avoid potential pitfalls and place your claim in the strongest possible position include: 

Follow All Medical Advice

Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident and following all medical advice is not only crucial for the sake of your recovery but also adds legitimacy to your claim for compensation. Insurance companies will scrutinize your medical records looking for any excuse to suggest that your injuries are exaggerated, such as not attending a scheduled appointment or not following through with recommended treatments.

Avoid Talking to Insurers

Communicating directly with representatives from the insurance company throughout the car accident claims process is both not necessary and not advised. These professionals minimize payouts as much as possible, and will use any statements you make against you.

Have an attorney handle all interactions on your behalf because they understand the nuances of these conversations and can protect your interests as effectively as possible.

Document Your Economic And Non-Economic Damages

After a car accident, there's no such thing as too much documentation of all the losses you've suffered, which may also include intangible consequences like physical and emotional pain.

Your lawyer can maintain detailed records of out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, lost income due to not being able to work, vehicle repairs, and any other costs that directly resulted from the accident. They can also advise you to document non-economic damages like emotional distress by keeping a journal throughout your recovery.

Keep the Accident Off Social Media

Most lawyers would ask you to avoid sharing details of either your accident or the recovery process on social media because it might end up being detrimental to your case.

Insurers often monitor the social media activity of claimants, looking for any information that could make them look bad, even if it's by taking the post out of context. You shouldn't discuss your accident or injuries online until after your case is resolved.

Hire an Experienced Lawyer 

One of the most crucial decisions you can make to strengthen your case after a serious car accident is choosing the right attorney to advocate for your best interests.

By preparing detailed documentation of your economic and non-economic damages accurately and negotiating with insurers for a fair settlement, an experienced lawyer can maximize the compensation available to help you recover from the accident. 

A skilled lawyer will not only use the police report effectively to substantiate important elements of the crash but personal injury attorney in Florida will also use their expertise to effectively navigate every step of the legal process.

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James Wayne Holliday Author Image

James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

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