A step-by-step guide for Georgia drivers on how to obtain an accident report form
Even the most careful drivers can get into a car accident. When it happens to you, filing and obtaining a police report that describes the details of the accident is an important piece of evidence that can impact whether or not you receive compensation from the insurer and the at-fault driver.
Sometimes, however, drivers forego filing a report if they are involved in a minor incident. This is one of the worst things you can do. Filing a report with the local authorities is the first step you should take and here’s why.
Why is filing a police report important?
Vehicular accidents are highly stressful situations. Even following minor collisions, many people are in shock and have a difficult time remembering exactly what happened. A police report is considered a reliable piece of evidence that reflects what really happened. The report can also help resolve any claims that you may have for compensation with the driver who may be at fault and their insurance company. If you fail to file a police report, you may end up being involved in a long, involved dispute that may be difficult to resolve.
When filing a police report about your accident, you should be aware of the following things:
- Always file a report, no matter how minor the damage may seem to be. Physical injuries and resulting pain from the incident may not manifest itself for weeks.
- Be honest with the police. Lying or exaggerating your claim will backfire. That said, don’t admit fault — rather, let the officer determine that based on the evidence found at the accident scene.
- Write down the responding officer’s contact information as he or she may remember details about the incident that you may not.
- Amend the police report, if necessary. Officers can make mistakes and may accidentally omit details. Make sure that everything is correct.
When will the accident report be available?
Most accidents reports won’t be immediately available. You might not be able to get it until approximately 3-4 days after the incident. This lag time allows for administrative review and processing.
Sometimes, uploading the report to the agency’s computer system will cause further delays. If the report isn’t available when you request it, ask the reporting agency when they believe it will be available.
Which agency is responsible for the accident report?
In the heat of the moment, you may not realize exactly which law enforcement agency has filed the report about your accident. Generally, you can expect either the police department of the municipality in which it occurred, the local county sheriff’s police or the state highway patrol to have the information.
You can call each of these agencies to find out which one has the report:
How do I obtain my police report?
You have 3 ways to get your report:
- Contact the law enforcement agency that responded to the incident
- Order it online
- Have your attorney’s office do it for you
Many people contact or visit the law enforcement agency to get the document. Most of the time, you’ll need to go to the agency’s records department for the report. Contact the agency before you go and tell them that you need a copy of an accident report and confirm that it is available. Expect to pay a small fee to obtain the report.
If you are unable to go to the reporting agency, you may be able to order the report online. Many Georgia law enforcement agencies, as well as the Georgia Department of Transportation, partner with private companies to allow the public to access accident reports.
Typically, you’ll need the following information to obtain a copy of your report:
- Surname (last name) of at least one of the involved parties
- Date and location of the accident
- VIN number of at least one of the vehicles involved, accident report number or the driver’s license number of at least one of the drivers
An alternative way to get a copy of an accident report is to send a written request via the open records provision to the Georgia Department of Public Safety asking for a written copy of the report.
Why do police reports matter?
Accident reports written by police and other local law authorities give insurance adjusters, lawyers and judges an impartial, objective account of how the accident occurred. The details in these reports weigh heavily into whether an insurance company will deny or accept a claim.
For this reason, it’s important you make sure that your attorney receives a copy of the accident report, as the information contained within could be crucial to the outcome of your case.
Been in a car accident? Our team at the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson is ready to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. With offices in Albany, Macon and Warner Robins, we serve accident victims throughout the state of Georgia.