Under Texas Transportation Code § 550.026, the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven must immediately give notice of the accident to the local police department if the accident occurred in a municipality, local police department or the sheriff’s office when an accident occurs not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality, or a sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the department if the accident is not required to be reported under Texas Transportation Code § 550.026(a)(1) or Texas Transportation Code § 550.026(a)(2).
Texas Transportation Code § 550.062 also establishes that a law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident must make a written report of the accident when the accident results in injury to or the death of a person or damage to the property of any one person to the apparent extent of $1,000 or more, and Texas Transportation Code § 550.065 states that on written request and payment of any required fee, the department or the governmental entity must release accident information to an entity described by Texas Transportation Code § 550.065(b), a law enforcement agency employing a peace officer who investigated the accident and sent the information to the department, the court in which a case involving a person involved in the accident is pending if the report is subpoenaed, and any person directly concerned in the accident or having a proper interest therein, including any person involved in an accident, the authorized representative of any person involved in an accident, a driver involved in an accident, an employer, parent, or legal guardian of a driver involved in an accident, the owner of a vehicle or property damaged in an accident, a person who has established financial responsibility for a vehicle involved in an accident, an insurance company that issued an insurance policy covering a vehicle involved in an accident, an insurance company that issued a policy covering any person involved in an accident, a person under contract to provide claims or underwriting information to a person described by Texas Transportation Code § 550.065(c)(4)(F), Transportation Code § 550.065(c)(4)(G), or Transportation Code § 550.065(c)(4)(H), a radio or television station that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, a newspaper that is a free newspaper of general circulation or qualified under Texas Government Code § 2051.044 to publish legal notices, published at least once a week, and available and of interest to the general public in connection with the dissemination of news, or any person who may sue because of death resulting from the accident.
Obtaining a crash report after an accident will require a person to know their crash identification number, the name of any person involved in a car accident, the date of an accident, and/or the location of an accident. When police do not respond to accident scenes, people may have to file their own reports with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) by filing a CR-2 form or blue form.
How Crash Reports Work in Austin
The two general ways in which people can obtain police reports are online or visiting a police department in person. A police report will cost $6 for a regular copy and $8 for a certified copy, which is the type people customarily need for legal proceedings.
The TxDOT Crash Records Information System (CRIS) Purchase system allows people to search for crash reports and download previous purchases. TxDOT notes that because of their confidential nature, crash reports are not available for online viewing by the general public.
While the CR-2 is the form people file when they do not deal with police after an accident, a police officer will complete a form known as a CR-3. To obtain a CR-3, TxDOT requires a person to be an individual involved in an accident, an authorized representative of a person involved in an accident, a parent, legal guardian, or employer of a person in an accident, or a person who has established themselves as financially responsible for one of the vehicles.
Both police officers and individuals will have to file their crash reports with TxDOT within 10 days of their accidents. Failing to report an accident can lead to a possible driver’s license suspension.
Filing and Reading Police Reports
When a person needs to complete their own crash report, they will need to have all of the following information:
- Date and time of accident — The actual time of a collision may be speculation, but people should certainly know the actual dates that their accidents happened.
- Accident location — Note the county or city that an accident occurred in as well as specific roadways.
- Weather conditions — When weather plays any kind of role in an accident, it should be noted.
- Automobiles involved in an accident — A person should make their own vehicle the primary vehicle in a report.
- Damages — Note all damaged property.
- Injuries — Note all injuries people suffered in an accident.
- Driver’s statement — A driver’s statement will be a person’s own account of an accident.
- Your signature — Signing a CR-2 report will means a person verifies that the information they are providing is correct and factual.
Most Texas crash reports will be four pages. The first page will provide a general overview of the accident, including when and where it happened as well as the vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, or other parties involved in the accident.
The first page should also document who was involved and any injuries known to the investigating officer at the time a report was written. Police reports often involve many different codes that can be difficult for people to understand, but TxDOT does offer a code sheet that outlines the meaning of various numerical codes.
A unit will either be a single motor vehicle or a pedestrian, bicyclist, or some other road user. The unit number used on the first page will be the same unit number used throughout the report.
The first page should list the motor vehicle type and its identifying information, such as year, make, model, color, and vehicle identification number (VIN). There should also be the names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of owners.
Drivers and passengers will be listed on the first page with codes indicating injuries and whether they were ejected, extracted, or required other safety equipment. The first page should also note whether a driver was driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Page two will document injuries, citations, and property damage known to an investigating officer at the time a report is written. Contributing factors to an accident identified by an investigating officer could play an important role in liability for an accident.
There is also a narrative section that allows police officers to include details they could not use elsewhere in the report. The second page provides six spaces for identifying the people injured or killed in an accident, and supplemental pages may be necessary if there were more than six injuries or fatalities.
The section below that will chronicle any tickets or citations issued in connection with an accident. While a ticket can certainly be used to demonstrate liability, a person can still be liable even when there is no citation.
The second page will also note any non-vehicle property damage. There is also a section for contributing factors. The final section will be the officer’s narrative and a diagram of the accident.
The third and fourth pages will be the same TxDOT code sheets we linked to earlier. They explain all of the codes used on the prior pages.
Police reports are vital to most personal injury cases because they often include direct evidence relating to an accident and also reveal whether one driver broke the law while driving. The unfortunate truth is that police reports are not always ironclad in court because it may be possible that a police officer was only able to speak to one driver following an accident when another person had to be transported for medical attention or died from their injuries.
Contact Our Austin Car Accident Attorney
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in any kind of car accident in the greater Austin area of Texas, you will want to be sure you have legal assistance with filing a police report if your crash was not reported to a police department. Even when police reports are filed by police officers, The Patel Firm PLLC can help people all over Texas obtain their crash reports and get justice for their accidents.
Our firm represents all clients on a no recovery, no fee guarantee meaning that you will not pay us anything to handle your case if we do not obtain a jury verdict or settlement. You can call 512-883-5171 or contact our Austin car accident attorney online to schedule a free consultation.