Drivers involved in car wrecks often want or need to get a copy of the accident report. In Virginia, the official name for this document is a “police crash report.”
The police crash report outlines all the basic information about a crash, the vehicles involved, the drivers and passengers, and causes and contributing factors to the accident. It also includes the investigating officer’s diagram of the crash scene and information about the location of impact on each vehicle. There are special pages that are completed when a commercial motor vehicle or pedestrian is involved. In addition, and often obtained only by special request, may be witness statements, a ‘DUI checksheet, or other documents identifying witnesses and scene diagrams.
The easiest way to get a crash report in the Commonwealth, prepared by the State Police Department, is to request it from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is the official custodian of records that reflect crashes that must be reported under state law. The DMV keeps the records for at least three years after the date of the accident. Depending upon the City involved, you may be able to obtain one simply by walking into the Central Records department of the Police Department.
Only certain people are legally allowed to obtain a copy of the crash report. Of course, the driver, someone who was injured in the crash, or someone who owned property involved in the crash can get a copy. In addition, any of these people can give authorization for someone else to obtain a copy of the report on their behalf.
If a minor is hurt or killed as a result of the crash, his or her parent or guardian may obtain a copy of the report from the DMV. Similarly, if an adult is injured or killed in the crash, that person’s next of kin or personal representative may obtain a copy of the report.
Aside from these people, others who were not involved in the crash may obtain information from the police crash report only if they are legally allowed to obtain it. The DMV’s website provides details about how to request a report from that agency.
A few Virginia law enforcement agencies make their crash reports available through an online vendor known as Buycrash.com. As of the writing of this article, the following agencies make their reports available through Buycrash:
- Colonial Heights Police Department;
- Roanoke City and County Police Departments;
- Staunton Police Department;
- Vincent Police Department; and
- Warsaw Police Department.
To use this tool, you must have certain information about the crash. You must also confirm that you are authorized to receive a copy of the report.
At The Sandler Law Group, we deal every day with vehicle accidents and crash reports in Virginia. If you have questions, ASK ABOUT IT! Call toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net or by email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.