How to Read Your Texas Crash Report
Following a car accident, the officer(s) involved will compile the information relevant to your crash into an appropriately titled document known as a Crash Report. This document is a critical component in receiving compensation following your accident. You will want a copy of this. Your attorney and the insurance provider will as well.
Your attorney likely knows how to request a copy of this document already, but it doesn’t hurt to have one yourself.
Acquiring a Copy of Your Crash Report
If you want a copy, you can visit the state's online portal, C.R.I.S. (Crash Records Information System), which stores the documents for public records. Visit the site here to get started.
After clicking "Search for your Crash Report" on the landing page, you will be prompted with multiple choices. Most people will likely opt to look for their crash report by their name and date of crash. If you have a valid driver's license and police recorded it, you can also search for your report.
Other alternatives include entering your vehicle's VIN or the TxDOT Crash Report ID. Often, an officer will provide you with a Crash Report ID after your crash as they begin the reporting process.
When you go to acquire your crash report, it's important to remember that your report may not be available if you attempt to locate a copy immediately after your accident. To appear in the digital database, a crash report can take up to 10-14 days, depending upon demand and the number of accidents at that time of year.
Purchasing a copy of the report will cost between $6 and $8, depending on which version of the report you request. A non-certified copy is available for the lower price, but a certified version is recommended if the document is intended to be used in legal proceedings.
By Texas Transportation Code § 550.065, any individual connected to an accident has the right to request a copy of the crash report. The interested party just needs to submit a written request and pay the relevant fee.
Those entitled to request a copy of a crash report would include:
- Any person involved/injured in the crash
- One of the drivers involved in the crash
- Property owners whose property was damaged in the crash
- The representing attorney of one of the parties involved in the crash
- An insurance provider investigating the crash
- The parent or legal guardian of an individual involved in the crash
Reading Your Crash Report
If you’ve never seen a crash report, it can be quite confusing unless you’re familiar with the shorthand code used by officers.
Like most things, reading your report slowly and breaking it down into parts can be extremely beneficial, as crash reports contain a ton of vital information.Consider breaking it down like this…
- Date & Time - This section will include the exact date and time of the accident and will be critical to establishing a timeline for your accident.
- Location - Where the crash occurred, including the specific location of the accident, such as locality and street names.
- Weather Conditions - If the weather affected your accident, a description of those conditions would be found here.
- Road Conditions - Officers will note if the roadway was wet, dry, icy, or had other debris that could have affected driving conditions.
- Parties Involved
- Vehicle & Driver Info - Important information on vehicle(s) involved in the crash broken down by each unit.
- Information collected will include the license plate number, VIN, make and model of the vehicle.
- The driver’s personal information will also be recorded here, along with details on any passengers in the vehicle.
- Insurance information will be included in this section of the crash report.
- If any individuals were taken to a nearby hospital for injuries, that information will also be featured here.
- Charges - A brief description of any charges that can be attributed to this accident, including the party at fault.
- Damages - Description of property damaged in the accident.
- Description of Accident
- Narrative Description - The responding officer will include a detailed description of the crash, witness testimony, and contributing factors that may have played a role or led to the crash.
- Diagram of Accident - A not-to-scale sketch detailing the crash will be drawn. The sketch will include the street names and cardinal directions.
- The diagram will also note if the crash occurred in or near an intersection, and the exact position of the vehicles during the crash.
Understanding your Crash Report
When officers write a crash report, they often use short-hand abbreviations throughout the report. With dozens of categories that appear on the crash report, each short-hand code can mean something different.
To see a full breakdown of how police use this code in relation to your crash report, click here to see the Texas code sheet.Reporting an Error on My Crash Report
After receiving your crash report, you’ll want to review it carefully. This document will be critical in establishing the timeline of your accident. But what happens if there is an inaccuracy?
Amending a crash report can be quite a difficult task. If this scenario arises, it may be best to contact a car accident lawyer if you haven’t already.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in working car wrecks is a precious resource if you’ve been involved in an accident. A lawyer can review the crash report with you and confirm that all information is accurate. If it isn’t, be sure to tell your attorney immediately.
If your attorney is experienced in car accident cases, they will know the proper parties to contact to correct the information on your crash report. Having an expert in your corner is always recommended.
Hiring a Houston Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
The days following an accident can be highly confusing and overwhelming. A trusted and expert attorney representing you can be a critical resource. In Houston, the attorneys at Sutliff & Stout Injury & Accident Law Firm have decades of combined experience.
Our track record is proven. Since opening our doors in 2008, we have recovered over $1 Billion for our clients. If you’ve been injured because of the carelessness and negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact our legal team.
Sutliff & Stout is ready day or night to answer your call. Contact us 24/7, and we’ll start reviewing your case details as part of our 100% free case evaluations.