How to Obtain and File an Accident Report
When you’re involved in a car accident, one of the first things you need to know is how to obtain and where to submit an accident report in West Virginia. The police report associated with your accident provides factual data when parties disagree on the events that caused it. It includes the names of all drivers and their passengers, descriptions of initial injuries, names of witnesses, the date, time, and much more. The responding officer should provide a business card with his or name, badge number, and contact information on it.
You can’t get far in the processing of your insurance claim or possible legal action without a police report. Besides giving an unbiased account of the accident, it’s helpful to have the report when your injuries don’t become apparent right away. You may also underestimate the damage to your vehicle initially. The police report shows that you’re not coming up with false information several days or weeks after the crash. It also facilitates the handling of your claim with your insurance company.
How to Obtain an Accident Report in West Virginia
To track down your accident report, you need to contact the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident and made a report. With so much commotion, you’re likely to forget the name and department of the investigating officer. If your accident took place within city or town limits, contact the police department for that municipality. For accidents occurring outside of a town or city hall, call the State Highway Patrol or the Sheriff’s Department. Once you have the right law enforcement agency, follow these steps:
- Complete a Record Request Form in person, online, or by mail
- Pay the fee if the department charges one
- Indicate where you would like the accident report delivered
You may want to request more than one official copy of the report since you want to keep it for your records and some insurance companies won’t accept a facsimile of it. You may need to pay an additional report fee if you need multiple copies.
Where to Submit an Accident Report in West Virginia
State law does not require you to report an accident to the West Virginia Department of Transportation. However, you must report the accident to the state police, county sheriff, or local police department within five days if it caused death, injury, or property damage greater than $500. You could have your license suspended if you fail to abide by this law. This is true even if the other driver asks you not to report the accident and offers to pay for damages. Follow the guidelines above for determining which law enforcement agency to contact and report the accident to.
What to Do if a Police Officer Doesn’t Come to the Scene of an Accident
A police officer may not always be available to take a report after you have a car accident, particularly a minor one. In fact, some jurisdictions don’t require officers to respond when no injuries took place and the damage is less than $500. You may also have your accident on a day when severe weather prevents an officer from reaching you or other emergencies or traffic problems take precedence.
If no officer shows up at your accident scene, you can still report the accident yourself. One option is to look up the appropriate law enforcement agency and complete a report online. You can also go to the police station and report the accident in person.
A Police Report Supports Your Legal Claim
If you decide to sue the other driver for your injuries or property damage later, the police report verifies how the events took place. Please contact Angotti & Straface to learn more about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party in a car accident.