If you are in a car accident, you should always call 911 as soon as you can. By calling emergency services, you will get immediate medical assistance for yourself and anyone else who suffers injuries in the crash. You will also ensure that a police officer gets to the scene. The officer will secure the area and help everyone from getting injured a second time by passing traffic.
Additionally, the officer who arrives on the scene will prepare an accident report. This report will be very helpful when you file an insurance claim. It may also be critical to have a copy of the report if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the wreck and your injuries. So, you should know how to get a copy of the report.
Two Ways to Order a Copy of Your Crash Report in South Carolina
You can take advantage of two ways to get a copy of your accident report in South Carolina. First, you can request it through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can also order a copy from the law enforcement agency that prepared the report.
Typically, an officer will complete a crash report on the same day as the crash or within a few days after it occurs. The officer will send the report to the DMV to keep on record. Once the DMV has your report, you can request it from the DMV by filling out and submitting a form known as a FR-50 form. You will need to pay a $6 fee.
If you don’t want to contact the DMV, you can request a copy of your report from the police department or sheriff’s office. The exact procedure that you need to follow to get a copy will vary from agency to agency. Here is contact information for several law enforcement agencies in the area:
No matter how you choose to obtain your report, if you have any trouble, the experienced car accident lawyers of McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, can help you through the process.
What Information Does a Police Accident Report Contain?
Typically, a police accident report provides a detailed account of the accident, the contributing factors involved in it and other information that will be good for you and your lawyer to have as you move forward with an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit. This information includes:
- The date and approximate time and location of the accident
- The parties involved, including the names of all drivers and passengers
- Contact and insurance information of all drivers
- Witness information, including the names and contact information of people that the officer interviewed at the scene
- A description of the scene, including weather, lighting and road condition
- A summary of damage to the vehicles involved and which parts, in particular, suffered damage
- A diagram of how the officer believes the accident occurred
- Statements by the parties involved and by witnesses describing what happened
- A list of contributing factors to the crash such as speeding, distracted driving or other observed actions
- In some cases, an opinion about which driver was at fault or what proportion of the blame each driver should share.
Some of this information may not be found in every report. In any case, having any of this information from a source like a police officer will assist your lawyer in building a stronger case for your injury claim.
How Will a Police Accident Report Impact Your Car Accident Case?
Insurance companies always look to protect their bottom line. An insurance company typically will not want to compensate you for your injuries. It should come as no surprise that the other driver’s insurer will likely try to dispute your account of the accident to pay you less or nothing at all. So, having an account that is favorable to you from a neutral source such as a police officer will benefit your case.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to leverage the information included in the police report to increase your chances of securing a more favorable settlement from the insurance company. The report can also help your lawyer to prepare for a trial if one is necessary.
Our Rock Hill Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You
An accident report from the police is a valuable part of a personal injury case. For this reason, you should get a copy of the report as soon as you can after a crash. As you can see above, getting a copy is not difficult to do.
The Rock Hill car accident lawyers of McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, have years of experience with helping people in South Carolina to recover the compensation they deserve after being hurt in an auto accident. If you were hurt in a car accident, we’re here to help. For more information on accident reports and how they can help your case, don’t hesitate to contact us right away. Call or use our contact form today and receive a free consultation.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.