Are Car Accidents Public Information?
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Are Car Accidents Public Information?

Are Car Accidents Public Information?

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Are Car Accidents Public Information?

Are car accidents public information? The answer depends on the state where you live. 

In New York, car accidents become a part of the public record between 14 and 60 days after the date of an accident. The number of days that pass before the state releases a vehicle collision report depends on the way the state received the report. It takes fewer days to release a car accident report if the state receives it via email as opposed to getting it through the United States Postal Service (USPS). The New York Department of Motor Vehicles provides a copy of a car accident report submitted by both motorists and law enforcement agencies up to four years after submission.

On the other hand, California does not make car accident reports a part of the public record, regardless of which party submits a report. This does not mean you cannot gain access to a car accident report in the Golden State. You can obtain a copy of a vehicle collision report by requesting the law enforcement agency that processed the report to release a copy of it in either print or digital form.  

In the aftermath of a car accident, you should ask for a copy of the official incident report as soon as possible to ensure the report contains accurate information. Any inaccurate information discovered in a car accident report might make it difficult for you to receive compensation from your insurance company. Filing a successful civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages also becomes more difficult to do. The key to receiving just compensation to recover financial losses involves proving another party committed one or more acts of negligence. An inaccurate car accident report hinders your personal injury attorney’s ability to prove the presence of the four elements of negligence.

For more than three decades, the personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan have helped clients receive the compensation they deserve to recover financial losses such as medical expenses and the value of repairs to damaged property. At the heart of every car accident case is the official incident report filed by the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene of an auto crash. Not only do we receive the official police report, but we also review it to make sure it contains accurate information. Our due diligence has helped our clients receive monetary damages for car accident cases that run into billions of dollars.

Learn more about the question, “Are car accidents public information,” by scheduling a free case evaluation with one of the personal injury lawyers at Morgan and Morgan.

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FAQ

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  • What Information Does a Car Accident Report Contain?

    A car accident report contains information that provides details about what transpired before, during, and after a vehicle collision. Although not a requirement for filing an official police report, the law enforcement officer filing your formal incident report can include an assessment that assigns fault for causing the auto crash. The assessment assigning fault typically is found towards the end of the car accident report.

    The information at the top of a formal incident report should include the date, time, and location of the vehicle collision. Location information should be as detailed as possible, such as including how far away the accident occurred from a point of interest such as a traffic signal. A law enforcement reconstruction artist creates a diagram of the collision that includes the positions of every vehicle involved. The names and contact information of the drivers involved in the crash follow the diagram section of a car accident report.

    Every person injured in the vehicle collision, including cyclists and pedestrians, should be included in the report, as well as the names and contact information of witnesses. The personal injury attorney that you work with from Morgan and Morgan uses the list of witnesses to build a strong case for you to receive compensation to recover financial losses. A detailed description of each vehicle involved in the crash, as well as the extent of property damage, follows the list of witnesses. Finally, the law enforcement officer writing a car accident report must include detailed descriptions of road and weather conditions.

  • How Do I Address an Inaccurate Car Accident Report?

    You can request that the law enforcement agency responsible for drafting the official incident report amend inaccurate information. This is one of many reasons why you should hire one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan. A lawyer knows how to persuade the law enforcement agency that filed the official police report to make appropriate changes to the content of the report. Errors such as an incorrect date and/or time can play a role in an insurance company denying a valid claim for compensation. 

    However, you cannot change the information provided by witnesses, as well as the conclusions reached by the author of the official police report. You have the right to submit your version of events, which becomes part of the public record in states that allow car accident reports to be public information. The law enforcement agency responsible for filing the official police report adds your version of events to the public record.

  • What Are the Most Common Causes of Auto Crashes?

    One of the most important sections of a car accident report is the section that describes the cause of an auto crash. Your personal injury lawyer refers to the cause of a car accident section to build a case that the other party committed one or more acts of negligence. For example, if the responding officer defines the cause of the vehicle collision to be bad weather, you do not have a persuasive enough case to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

    The most common types of car accidents include the following incidents.

    Reckless Driving

    Proving another party committed one or more acts of reckless driving helps your personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan to build a strong case for negligence. Speeding represents the most common type of reckless driving. The faster a vehicle travels before impact, the more serious the injuries sustained because of the strong impact. Another common type of reckless driving involves running a stop sign or a red light. Running traffic stops often leads to a side-impact collision, which represents the most damaging type of vehicle collision.

    To prove another party committed one or more acts of reckless driving, your personal injury lawyer must obtain video footage from a traffic camera, as well as interview witnesses of the auto crash.

    Driving Under the Influence

    Most states make it a crime for a motorist to operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level that exceeds 0.08. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol impairs a driver’s judgment, such as trying to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone. Drugs and/or alcohol also considerably slow down reaction times, which includes failing to stop a motor vehicle in time to avoid a collision. 

    If you sustained injuries and property damages because another motorist drove under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you might have a strong enough case to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

    Distracted Driving

    Texting while driving has emerged as such a serious safety issue that most states have passed laws prohibiting the practice of sending and receiving text messages while operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, many motorists ignore state laws and continue to perform the dangerous practice. Other types of distracted driving include eating a meal, tending to personal hygiene issues, and focusing on the passing scenery.

  • How Does My Personal Injury Attorney Prove Negligence?

    One of the reasons why you need to learn the answer to the question, “Are car accidents public information” is that your personal injury lawyer uses the information presented in the official police report to build a strong enough case for demonstrating the four elements of negligence.

    Duty of Care

    The duty of care doctrine states one party assumes legal liability for protecting the health of a second party. For example, the owner of private property assumes a duty of care to protect the health of every visitor to the property. When it comes to car accident cases, motorists assume a duty of care to operate a motor vehicle safely to protect the health of other parties. Although this is the easiest element of negligence to prove, some causes of car accidents do not involve a violation of the duty of care doctrine, such as a crash caused by bad weather.

    Violating the Duty of Care Doctrine

    The second element of demonstrating negligence must show one party committed an act that injured a second party. For a case involving a vehicle collision, violating the duty of care doctrine can include committing one or more acts of reckless driving. For example, if a motorist moved into your lane while operating a motor vehicle, the motorist violated the duty of care doctrine by committing the dangerous act. The information in a car accident report can help you prove a motorist violated the duty of care doctrine. In addition, the investigation conducted by a Morgan and Morgan attorney with the help of a state-licensed investigator also can help you show another party did not protect you from sustaining one or more injuries.

    Caused Your Injuries

    Your car accident lawyer must demonstrate the car accident caused your injuries. Copies of accurately dated medical bills and records provide the physical evidence required to prove the third element of negligence. Nonetheless, the attorney representing the other party might claim you sustained your injuries from another event. For instance, if you sustained a broken arm as a result of a vehicle collision, the other party’s lawyer might claim you sustained the injury from participating in an outdoor sport.

    Suffered Financial Losses

    The injuries that you sustained because of an auto crash must have produced financial losses. Copies of bank statements and medical bills provide you with the documentation you need to prove the fourth element of negligence. You cannot expect to receive a favorable ruling from a civil court judge if you cannot show the court that a car accident caused you to sustain injuries that generated financial losses.

    Are car accidents public information? Discover the answer to the question and many more legal answers by scheduling a free case evaluation today with a personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan.

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