When you are in a car accident, the first thing that you should do is check that you and everyone in your vehicle are okay. Next, contact the police. This is a high priority not only because the police can make sure that everyone gets the necessary medical attention and that the incident is formally documented.
The investigating police officer will assess the situation and write a report. Officially, this report is called the “Alabama Uniform Traffic Crash Report” and can serve as vital evidence that can strengthen your claim. This can ensure that you obtain insurance and legal purposes when you are not at fault.
There are some steps that you must take to acquire your crash report. If you have been injured and need legal help and guidance after your accident, contact Norris Injury Lawyers at (800) 477-7510.
How to File a Report in Alabama?
Call the police immediately after any collision to report it. It is required that you contact the police when the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage. The police officer on the scene then gathers information for an accident report. However, if your accident only resulted in property damage of less than $500 in value, you may not be required to call the police.
Even when not legally required, you may still decide to contact the police. It is not uncommon to realize that you have an injury once the adrenaline wears off after a seemingly minor accident. You will want compensation to cover the medical costs, but if there is no record of an accident, it could be difficult to file a strong claim for that injury.
The driver in the accident must report the accident using the SR-31 form within 30 days. Fill out this form if there was death, injury, or property damage of over $500 inflicted.
Penalties for Failing to Report an Accident in Alabama
Failing to report an accident with significant damages can be the equivalent of leaving the scene of an accident. According to Alabama Code 32-10-6, failing to report an accident that resulted in only property damage is a Class A misdemeanor.
A Class A misdemeanor could mean a fine of up to $6,000 and 1 year in prison. Failing to report an accident where there was an injury or death can be classified as a Class C misdemeanor with a higher penalty and fine.
As there are great penalties associated with failing to report an accident, you must take the necessary steps. Avoid the penalties by contacting the police after an accident or filing the SR-31 form.
How to Obtain a Report in Alabama?
In order to obtain an accident report that has been filed by the police in Alabama, you would need to contact the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Besides obtaining your crash report through this agency, you may want to check with the police department of the city where your accident occurred, as certain municipalities provide their accident report at a lower price.
The following explains how you can get a copy of the accident report.
You can obtain a report online through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. It is only estimated to take 1 to 5 minutes to fill out the form to obtain your report using this method. According to Alabama Code 32-10-7, the police must turn in their report within 24 hours after completing the investigation of the car accident.
Your crash report may take up to 10 business days after the day of the accident for it to be available online. Crash reports for collisions that happened over 10 years ago will not be available for purchase online.
You will need to provide your name, your driver’s license number, or your accident report number to find your crash report. You will also need to use your email and your debit or credit card to pay the fees and obtain it. There is a $15 fee to access your report and a $2 processing fee if paying by credit card.
The crash report will then be sent to your email within 48 hours.
To request an accident report by mail, you must fill out a Crash Report Request form with information regarding the drivers involved, their license numbers, and the date of the accident.
Send the completed form to:
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
P.O. Box 1471
Montgomery, AL 36102-1472
The form must be sent along with a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order made out to $15 payable to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Personal checks and cash payments are not accepted. There must also be a self-addressed and stamped envelope sent along with the request.
As an alternative method to obtain your crash report, you can call the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at (334) 242-4241. They will direct you to the appropriate jurisdiction and help you get your report.
If you prefer to process your request in person, you can also go to an ALEA Driver License Office to ask about getting a crash report. You can purchase a crash report at any of the locations in Alabama.
What an Accident Report Contains?
When the police arrive to investigate, the officers gather critical information that ends up on the accident report. They may start talking to the involved parties and to any witnesses to assess the situation.
The completed report contains the following information pertaining to an accident:
- Personal information of the drivers involved in the accident such as the names, addresses, driver’s license, and insurance information
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- A diagram of the damage to the vehicles
- Contributing factors to the accident according to police observations
- Weather and roadway conditions
- Notes on victims and any injuries sustained
- Statement by those involved and witnesses
- Any violations and tickets that were written by the police
- Description of what happened in the accident and an opinion as to the cause and who is likely at fault
For a preview of what a crash report looks like, you can download a blank sample report to see the kind of information it contains.
Why Get an Accident Report?
An accident report can serve as crucial evidence if you plan on filing a claim. The police use their training and experience to record their opinion on who is at fault and what caused the accident. In addition, if there were any traffic violations that led to the accident, the accident report would contain any traffic tickets that were written up at that time as well.
Alabama is a contributory negligence state. This means that if you are proven to be even 1 percent liable for the injuries that were sustained in the accident, you cannot receive any compensation for your injuries. An accident report is, therefore, an important piece of evidence that can prove that you are 100-percent free of responsibility for the accident.
Check the Accuracy of the Accident Report
When the police arrive at the scene of an accident, they will start to assess the accident from their own point of view. It may be a good idea to document the accident yourself, if possible.
Taking pictures of the aftermath and writing down what happened will help you when you need to recall the events before and after the accident. This way, you have a record to refer to when you receive the official crash report.
Make sure to compare the report provided by the police with your own documentation. It is especially vital that you confirm whether your injuries are mentioned in the report. If you notice any discrepancies, it is important to take the necessary steps to make any corrections to the police report as soon as possible.
Contact Norris Injury Lawyers for Help Understanding your Accident Report
If you were in an accident, one of the first documents of many that must be filled out and considered is the crash report written by the investigating police officer. Filing and obtaining this document is essential when considering your personal injury claim.
With the mountains of paperwork that accumulate in the aftermath of an accident, it can be overwhelming to keep track of all relevant documentation. Let the reputable attorneys at Norris Injury Lawyers, backed up by 40 years of legal experience, help you by offering legal guidance. Contact us for a free legal consultation regarding your accident and help in understanding your accident report.
Read more about our No Fee Guarantee® here on our website. Or call (800) 477-7510 to get more information from Norris Injury Lawyers.