Auto Accident Lawyer

If someone injures you in a car accident, then it is reasonable to seek damages. However, before you pursue legal action, request the accident report, which supports the legal argument for your eventual personal injury claim. You may think to go to the police station is the best way to get a copy of the report, but the local Department of Motor Vehicles keeps a record of most accidents in the district. Therefore, know the process before marching all over town.


Not every report will take the same time to appear in the DMV files. The process varies dependent on the filing method and the person doing the filing. In some jurisdictions, it can take up to 30 days before a file is available because the filing officer used a paper form. If the officer uses electronic forms, then the process may only take 14 days. However, if reported by a motorist and not a law enforcement officer, the process can take at least 60 days before the report is available.

Requesting a Copy

Though seeking a copy of the accident file seems like a straightforward process, there are rules in place to protect those involved in the accident. While the laws vary depending on the state, they typically cover similar things. For instance, your name must appear in the file, or you must represent someone who is. You must be a part of a class action arising from the accident or represent someone who is. If you meet any of those expectations, then you can request the file.

Also, you may need to have the license plate number of at least one vehicle involved. You will probably need to provide your driver’s license number and a DMV case number although some of these things vary by state.


While some municipalities may charge differently, most places will require a fee for the copying or printing of the official accident report. These fees not only vary by jurisdiction but by final format. For instance, a mailed paper copy will cost more than a digital or PDF file.

Therefore, before marching all over town trying to find an accident report, know the timeline, process, and fees required for such a request. The report can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months before it is even available, and your name must appear in the report to receive a copy. If you were in an accident and need help to retrieve a copy of the official report, then reach out to a local car accident attorney who can help.