If you’ve been in a car accident and wondering how to proceed with recovering damages, getting a copy of a police report from the accident is a relatively straightforward part of the process. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Contact the police department

Contact the police department that responded to the scene of the accident. You can usually find this information on the business card the officer gave you at the scene, or by searching online for the police department in the area where the accident occurred.

The City of San Diego website, for example, provides instructions on how to get a police report by type and allows you to submit an online request for vehicle accident reports.

2. Request the report

You can request a copy of the report either in person, by phone, or by email/online, depending on the accident location. 

You will need to provide your name, the date and time of the accident, and the location of the accident. If you are not the driver, you will also need to provide the name of the driver.

3. Pay the fee

There is usually a small processing fee for obtaining a copy of a police report, which can vary from one police department to another. Some departments may accept payment by credit card over the phone, while others may require payment in person or by mail. 

4. Wait for the report

It can take several days to several weeks to receive a copy of a police report, depending on the police department. If you need the report sooner, you may be able to expedite the process by paying an additional fee.

On the SanDiego.gov website, they mention the following for processing time: “Please allow 3 – 10 business days from the date of the accident so the report can be submitted, processed, and approved for release”.

5. Review the report

Once you receive the report, review it carefully to ensure that the information is accurate. If you find any errors, you can request that they be corrected.

Note that some police departments may have restrictions on who can obtain a copy of a police report. For example, some departments may only release the report to the parties involved in the accident or to their attorneys. 

If you are unable to obtain a copy of the report, you may want to consult with a personal injury lawyer for assistance.

Need an attorney? Call the San Diego, CA, law firm of Gallagher Krich, APC at (858) 926-5797, use our contact form, or email our lawyers at info [at] tomgallagherlaw.com.

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