How Long Does It Take To Get A Police Report?

One of the first things you should do following an accident is contact the authorities. This is true even if the accident seems minor. Law enforcement and emergency services can help control the accident scene, provide medical assistance, and gather vital information.

A car crash or another type of accident may leave you with substantial financial losses such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. The information recorded in a police report can serve as valuable evidence when you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

While a copy of your police report could be accessible, it may not be available to you immediately. This article will discuss some of the aspects of a police report and how long it may take to obtain one.

What’s Included in a Police Report?

In most situations, a law enforcement officer will respond to the scene of an accident if there is injury or property damage involved. The officer will conduct an initial investigation of the incident and record his or her findings in an official police report.

The information recorded in police reports after a car accident typically includes:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names and contact information for all involved in the crash
  • Weather and road conditions at the time of the incident
  • Make, model, and year of the vehicles involved in the accident
  • Diagram of the incident showing lanes, traffic signals, directions of travel, and more
  • Description of any apparent contributing factors
  • Notes on any injuries and whether individuals needed emergency medical care
  • Property damage information
  • Names, agency, and badge numbers of all responding police officers

Keep in mind that the information included in a police accident report will differ depending on the type of accident you were involved in.

Why a Copy of the Police Report Is Important

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, 25,325 individuals sustained crash-related injuries in 2022. If you have been harmed in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, a police report can be an essential piece of evidence when building your personal injury case.

Consider some reasons why a police report can be valuable to your claim:

  • Official record of the incident: A police report offers a comprehensive account of your accident. Having this information recorded by a reputable third party helps ensure accuracy and can prevent future disputes about the basic facts of the accident.
  • Credible evidence: Law enforcement officers are trained to gather and document evidence objectively. The observations, witness statements, and other information recorded in police reports can be credible evidence in personal injury cases.
  • Identification of witnesses: Police reports will usually include the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident. This allows you or your personal injury attorney to follow up with these individuals to obtain third-party details of the accident.
  • Insurance claims: Insurance adjusters often rely on police reports to assess the validity and details of a claim. A police report can corroborate your version of events and support your compensation claim.
  • Fault and liability: An essential element of any accident claim is determining fault. Often, police reports will include the officer’s assessment of fault. This can be persuasive in negotiations with the insurance company.
  • Legal proceedings: If your personal injury case goes to court, a police report can establish the facts of the accident and support your testimony. Judges and juries often view police reports as reliable and impartial, which can work to strengthen your case when the report matches your story.

How to Obtain a Copy of the Police Report

The process of obtaining a copy of your police report will depend on the city and state where the accident occurred. Procedures may also vary depending on which law enforcement agency responded to your accident.

For example, in Utah, depending on your location, it could have been the Utah Highway Patrol, the local police department, or the county sheriff’s office who responded to the scene.

Regardless of where your accident occurred, these are the general steps for obtaining a copy of a police report:

  • Request a copy: Reach out to the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident scene. Depending on the agency’s procedures, you could do this in person, by calling, by mail, or by visiting their website and completing a request form.
  • Provide all necessary information: To find your report, you will be asked to provide information such as your full name, case number, or driver’s license number.
  • Pay any fees: You will likely be asked to pay a small fee to obtain a copy of the report, but this differs by jurisdiction. The fee varies but typically ranges between $5 and $20.

It’s important to request a report as quickly as possible after your accident since some agencies have a time limit on how long they retain records. Your lawyer can also help you with this step.

Typical Waiting Times to Receive a Police Report

Some people get frustrated because their police report is not immediately available after their accident. But keep in mind that law enforcement officers must follow certain procedures to report the incident properly.

In general, police officers will complete their portion of the report within 3 to 5 business days. This can vary depending on how busy the police department is and when the accident occurred (holiday, weekend, etc.) For more severe accidents that require thorough investigation, the waiting period could extend to several weeks or more.

In some situations, you can request an expedited release of the report. However, this may incur additional fees and is subject to the law enforcement agency’s policies.

Our Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help

A police report can significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury claim following a severe accident. If you are having trouble obtaining a copy of your police report, contact a local personal injury law firm for assistance.

If your accident took place in Utah, Washington, or Idaho, call Siegfried & Jensen. Our accident attorneys are knowledgeable in the process of obtaining police reports from law enforcement agencies in these states.

So when you are feeling overwhelmed about what steps to take after an accident, you can find comfort by reaching out to our legal team. We have decades of experience in helping accident victims understand their legal rights and get the compensation they deserve.

Let us help you too, by guiding you through every step of the claims process. Call (801) 845-9000 or complete our online form to schedule a free case evaluation. 

You can find us in IdahoWashington and also in Utah, in:

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.