A California Highway Patrol (CHP) incident report (known in common parlance as an “accident report” or a “police report”) is an essential piece of evidence in a California personal injury lawsuit after a car accident.
For this reason, you must know how to get an incident report quickly and with as little red tape as possible.
Our Southern California auto accident lawyers will explain what you should know.
Who Can Get a California Highway Patrol Incident Report?
Not just anyone can get an incident or accident report from the CHP. You must qualify as a party of interest.
Parties of interest include:
- Property owners,
- Vehicle owners, and
- Parents or guardians.
You might even qualify as a party of interest if you don’t fit into any of the above parties—for example, you are a pedestrian who was injured in the accident.
California Hwy Patrol Incident Reports: What They Contain
A CHP incident report typically contains a detailed record written by a police officer who was present at the accident scene.
Typically, the report includes a narrative of the events leading up to, during, and after a motor vehicle accident. If you qualify, you can usually obtain one within a few days after the accident.
What They Are Used For
A CHP incident report is used for the following purposes:
- To open an investigation into the accident—this is particularly likely when a crime is involved (a stolen vehicle, DUI, etc.);
- To compile statistics;
- As evidence for filing a claim with an insurance company;
- As evidence in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit; or
- As evidence in a criminal prosecution (with limited uses due to restrictions imposed by the rules of evidence).
Although you can dispute an incident report, it is typically highly persuasive in court.
How Do I Get an Accident Report?
If you want a copy of the California accident report, you have three options:
- If your insurance company knows how to obtain an incident report, ask them to provide copies to you; this is the simplest way to obtain it.
- Go to any CHP office and pay a fee. There are three CHP offices in the Los Angeles metro area, for example.
- Ask the CHP to mail you a copy of the incident report.
The CHP will ask you (or your insurance company) to fill out Form CHP 190, Application for Release of Information.
You will need to include the following information on Form CHP 190:
- The date that the accident occurred,
- The location of the accident.
- The driver’s name,
- The vehicle owner’s name,
- Your relationship to the accident as a party of interest,
- A $10 fee if the incident report is no longer than 25 pages (the fee may increase modestly if the report is longer than that),
- Your signature, and
- A copy of your driver’s license or other photo ID.
If you lack a photo ID, you will need a notary public to notarize your signature. Remember you will not be able to find an incident report unless the CHP investigated your accident.
Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer for Help
At Farzam Law Firm, we don’t back down, and we fight to win. We win so often, as it happens that we can afford to offer you this guarantee—your legal bill will be $0.00 unless we win your claim and your money arrives.