Drivers may often be unclear about whether they need to file a police report after a crash. If you are living in Texas, it is important to understand what your legal duties are under the law. It is also good to know how having a police report could help if you later file a lawsuit in Fort Worth to recover your damages.
Anderson Cummings discusses some important facts about police crash reports, including when you are legally required to file one in Texas.
When Do Drivers Legally Need to File a Police Report in Texas?
Under Texas law, drivers are only required to report a car accident under specific circumstances, which include:
- When someone gets injured
- If the crash caused a death
- When property damages are estimated to be at or above $1,000
Failure to report a crash to the police in these situations could result in heavy fines and jail time, even if you did not cause the crash.
What if My Crash is a Minor Fender Bender and No One Got Hurt?
This is an important question to consider. Under the law, if the crash caused no injuries and had less than $1,000 property damage, you do not have to file a police report in Fort Worth. However, it is risky not to call police after even a minor crash. Here are some reasons why:
- You may have suffered internal injuries: Even minor incidents could cause a serious crash injury, such as severe whiplash, internal organ damage or a brain bleed, which could be fatal without immediate treatment. When your body is in shock, you may not feel any pain for several hours.
- You may have costly property damages: Some damages are “under the hood” and may not be immediately noticeable. If you drive away without a police report, you may never get compensated for those losses.
- A crash you did not cause may turn into a “he said, she said” situation: A police report helps to document the crash scene, which makes it harder for an at-fault party to lie about what happened.
In short, whether there are minor injuries and property damages or not, having a police report can help to protect your legal interests. Even if you caused the crash or are partially liable, it is risky not to involve police. How often have we heard of someone saying they are not hurt at the crash scene only to complain of neck pain and other injuries later on? The same applies to vehicle damage. A simple scratch could suddenly turn into a new paint job.
Do I Need to Stay at the Scene of a Minor Crash?
It is a good idea to wait at the scene of a crash until police arrive. If the dispatcher you reach determines the incident is not major or does not require anyone to respond to the scene, your call to the dispatcher is recorded.
Whether or not police respond to your crash. there are some steps you can take to protect evidence and your legal rights:
- Take pictures of vehicle damage at the scene – yours and the other driver’s
- Photograph the location – include landmarks, crash debris and the involved vehicles together (a photo of the vehicles together helps to show how they came to rest after the initial impact)
- Use your smartphone to capture images or take a video of the crash scene
- Try to speak to any witnesses who saw what happened and get their contact details
One word of caution – do not get out of your car to take pictures or wander around if there is traffic about. This is especially true if you are on a highway. You could end up getting hit by another driver who is not paying attention. In this situation, your best bet is to move your vehicle to a road shoulder or nearby parking lot, gas station, etc. If there is no traffic, take whatever pictures you can from inside your car before moving your vehicle.
What Information Gets Included in a Police Report?
If police respond to your accident, there will be an investigation of the crash scene. The responding officer includes many details about his or her findings in a police report, including:
- Date and time the incident occurred
- Location of the car crash, including whether it happened on a highway, parking lot or street
- How many vehicles and people were involved in the collision
- Contact details for each driver – name, address and phone number and driver’s license
- Insurance information for each driver
- Vehicle information – the make, model, year, color and vehicle information number (VIN)
- Passenger details (age, seating position, whether car seats or seatbelts were used, whether any passengers were ejected from the vehicle)
- Statements from each driver
- Testimony from witnesses who saw what happened
- Diagram of how the vehicles’ positions after the crash as well as the location of any damage
While a police report cannot be submitted in court as evidence, testimony from the responding officer can. Additionally, the details are useful when negotiating a settlement with the liable insurance company.
How Can I Get a Copy of My Police Report in Fort Worth?
Police reports take a few days to get processed (5-10 days). Once available, however, you can request a copy of your Fort Worth police crash report in a few different ways.
- Access your report online
- Request by phone: Call 817-398-4160 (the Fort Worth Police Department Records and Reports Division)
- Send a mail-in request*
- Request your copy in person*
*The walk-in or mailing address is: 1000 Calvert St, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Some Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
After a car accident, people may initially feel confused, emotional or overwhelmed. Some people are simply in shock and are not sure what to do.
Learning more about what you should and should not do after a crash can help you to be better prepared if one ever happens.
- DO seek medical care right away – Delays could put your health, your claim and even your life at risk.
- DO seek legal help – You can contact our law offices in Fort Worth 24/7.
- DO notify your insurance company – You may have tight deadlines for contacting your insurer after a crash. Make sure you know these time frames to avoid missing out on recovering your losses.
- DO get a copy of your police report and review it immediately – Sometimes there are errors you may need to correct.
- Do NOT over-discuss the crash with anyone – even the police – Be truthful and state the facts about what happened. Rambling on and trying to guess about things, like how fast you were going, could further complicate your claim. Let crash scene investigators determine these things.
Contact the Anderson Cummings Legal Team After a Crash
We understand that you could choose any legal team after a crash. When you call our law firm, we are ready to fight hard to win your trust and your case. Even if you do not have a police report, we may still be able to help you.
After a crash, call Anderson Cummings to discuss your collision with an experienced Fort Worth auto accident lawyer at our firm. We have a proven history of success and have recovered over $100 million for our clients.
There are no upfront fees or other costs if we represent you. We do not get paid unless we win your case.
Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. (817) 920-9000