After any car accident in Georgia, you’ll want to get a copy of your police report, also known as an incident report or crash report. This is a formal document that police file after responding to the crash, in which they give all the details they observed at the scene and their description of what happened. Since the police are generally an impartial party, their report is trusted as a more reliable source of information than what you, the driver, state happened.
There are three ways to get your police report:
- Pick it up from the police department (or other law enforcement agency) that responded to your accident,
- Order it online, or
- Let your car accident lawyer handle it for you.
Most people simply go pick it up themselves. This involves going in person, paying a small fee (generally $5 or less) and picking up the paperwork. Normally you will need to go to the Records Unit to get your report; you can call the police station’s general number to ask where this is and what their hours are. Be sure to tell them you are looking for an incident report and confirm that you have the right location.
You should also be aware that:
- You must go to the specific police department, sheriff station or Georgia Highway Patrol post that handled your accident—even if that is a different city or county than where you live.
- It may take several days after the accident before the police report is available.
How can I get my police report online?
Going in person to a police station is a hassle, which is why many people prefer to get theirs online. You can do that by visiting the website buycrash.com, which allows you to look up and purchase a copy of most car accident reports. The fee is $5 per report. Note that this is not a government-owned website; it’s a private service.
You may need some basic information to look up your report:
- The date of the accident
- Where the accident happened
- Your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in some cases
Alternately, if you have a car accident lawyer, you can simply ask them to get your police report for you. They have legal assistants who can do this quickly and efficiently without wasting your time. Car accident lawyers do this routinely as part of the process of assembling evidence for your case.
What if I don’t know which law enforcement agency responded to the crash?
This is common when someone is shaken after an accident. It’s easy for the entire experience to become a blur. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your report.
If you want to track down the agency, it will either be the police, sheriff or Highway Patrol for the location where the crash happened. You can call each of those three agencies separately and ask them, and typically find out who has your report in an hour or less. Alternatively, you can use the website above to look up your report by location, date and VIN number (if known). The website does not require you to know which law enforcement agency responded.
Can I get an accident report if I didn’t call the police?
No. If police did not respond at the time of the incident, they cannot and will not complete an accident report. This can complicate matters with the insurance company, which may try to blame you for the accident. But you can complete your own personal accident report, which may help. This is essentially a formal way to document everything that happened as you saw it, as soon after the accident as possible. Give the completed report to your lawyer and they may be able to draw on it when dealing with the insurance company. (Government agencies will not accept the personal report, but it can serve as useful evidence when dealing with insurers.)
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