How to Get an Accident Report in Walnut Creek

Accident Report in Walnut Creek

After a car accident, your first instinct may not be to call the police – particularly if it was just a minor collision. While calling law enforcement may not seem necessary, an official report from a government agency can be incredibly helpful if you pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It can also be useful when making a claim with your own insurance company.

If the police do arrive at the scene, they will interview witnesses, take notes of what happened, and otherwise gather vital information about the crash. Once that report has been completed, you can then obtain a copy of it from the appropriate law enforcement agency. In Walnut Creek, CA, that will likely be the Walnut Creek Police Department or the California Highway Patrol.

This report can then be used by your car accident attorney to put together a strong case against the other driver and their insurer. Through an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit, you can get financial compensation for your full range of losses, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To learn more about your rights and options for pursuing a case, reach out to a Walnut Creek personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

Getting an Accident Report in Walnut Creek, CA

You may be aware that in certain situations, you may be required to file a report of a motor vehicle accident with the state. Under California law, the driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle collision must make a written report of the crash to either a state or local agency. 

SR 1 Accident Report

First, if the accident resulted in injuries or death, a report must be made to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or local police department. Second, if the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, the driver involved must report it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. This can be done using Traffic Accident Report SR1.

Even before one or more drivers makes an official report, however, law enforcement may show up at the scene of the accident. This may happen because you or someone else called 911. In this situation, the police officer will prepare a written report of the accident. 

Unlike a self-filed report to the CHP or the DMV, this report may become a crucial piece of evidence in a car accident claim. If you were involved in an accident, there are several ways that you can request a copy of the accident report. The method that you use will be based in part on which law enforcement agency arrived at the scene.

CHP Form 190

If the CHP came to the accident, then you can get a copy of its report by filling out CHP Form 190, Application for Release of Information. Any interested party – including drivers, passengers, property owners, vehicle owners, or parents or guardians of a minor involved in the crash – can request a copy of the report. When filling out this form, provide as much information about the accident date and location to help the agency find the correct report.

Once you have completed the form, you can submit it in person at a local CHP office or by mail, along with a small fee. There are three CHP offices located near Walnut Creek, CA:

  1. Contra Costa, located at 5001 Blum Road, Martinez
  2. Oakland, located at 3601 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
  3. Castro Valley, located at 21020 Redwood Road, Castro Valley

If the accident report was completed by the Walnut Creek Police Department (WCPD), you can request a copy directly from their office. To do so, you will need to be an interested party and have a legal right to the requested information. There is no fee to obtain a police report directly from the WCPD.

If you meet these criteria, you can print out the WCPD’s Application for Release of Information, and fill out the required information.  You can then submit it to the WKPD by mail, email hidden; JavaScript is required, or fax at:

Walnut Creek Police Department
Attn: Records
1666 North Main Street
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Alternatively, you can request a copy of your accident report online. The cost for this service is $5, and most reports should be available within 5 to 10 days of the crash.

If the WCPD does not have a copy of an accident report, it may be because another law enforcement agency is handling it. That is typically because there were serious injuries, a fatality, or a crime associated with the report, or because the wreck happened outside of the jurisdiction of the WCPD. In some situations, the report may not be complete, or is unable to be released due to certain laws.

If you are having difficulty getting your accident report from the CHP or WCPD, your car accident attorney may be able to help. They can learn more about which agency made the report, and whether there is any reason that it has not yet been released.

How an Accident Report Can Help Your Claim

An accident report written by a law enforcement officer can be incredibly useful as you build your case against the other driver – or drivers – who may have been responsible for the collison. Police officers are specifically trained to assess auto accidents, and have substantial experience with many types of crashes. As such, their reports often contain critical information that may form the basis of your case – and may even lead to other evidence.

A typical police report will contain facts such as:

  • The date, time, and location of the accident
  • The weather conditions at the time of the crash
  • Names and contact information for the drivers, passengers, and any witnesses
  • Statements made by the drivers and witnesses
  • A narrative or description of the event
  • Description of injuries suffered by you and other victims
  • Observations of vehicle damage
  • A diagram of the accident scene and point of impact of the vehicles
  • Pictures and/or video of the accident scene, injuries and property damage
  • Road conditions at the time of the accident
  • Whether any drivers were issued a ticket or citation (such as for violating cell phone laws)

This type of information can form the basis of any claim against the other driver in your case. It can help to narrow the focus of the claim, and allow your car accident attorney to gather facts and evidence much more quickly. 

Using the accident report, your lawyer will be in a better position to negotiate the claim with the other driver’s insurance company.  Because police officers are neutral parties and many are specially trained to analyze accident scenes, insurance adjusters are likely to give these reports more weight than an injury victim’s description of what happened. This can help you get full compensation for your injuries more quickly.

At the same time, your lawyer can use the information contained in the report to find other evidence to support your claim – such as tracking down witnesses or even finding another party who may be liable for your injuries. An accident reconstruction expert can also use the report to help them prove what happened.

Finally, if your case goes to trial, then the police officer who made the accident report may testify on your behalf. They will typically rely on the notes and observations contained in the report to refresh their memory as they testify.

Help for Walnut Creek Accident Victims

If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle collision, calling law enforcement to the scene to take an accident report can be critical. Your attorney can then use this report as a basis for a successful insurance claim or lawsuit.

At Appel Law Firm LLP, we aggressively advocate for the rights of injury victims throughout Northern California. Based in Walnut Creek, we offer free initial consultations for all prospective clients, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Walnut Creek car accident lawyer, call us at 925-938-2000 or fill out our online contact form.

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