A car accident report can help you if you ever need to file an injury claim after an accident. It can support your description of your injuries. The investigative findings can also help you prove that another driver caused your accident.
Texas has a statewide database for car accident reports. All law enforcement agencies in the state must file car accident reports electronically with the Texas Department of Transportation. This allows easy access to reports for those authorized to view them.
Here are some facts to know about car accident reports in Houston and why you might need one.
Car Accident Reporting
Under Texas law, you must immediately call the local police or the highway patrol if your accident caused:
- A death
- An injury
- Damage that disables your vehicle
When law enforcement officers arrive, they will investigate the accident. The officers must prepare and file an accident report if the investigation determines:
- Anyone, including a pedestrian, died
- Anyone was injured
- The crash caused more than $1,000 in damage to any person’s property
Law enforcement officers do not need to file an accident report if the accident caused less than $1,000 in damage and no one was injured or killed. But drivers can voluntarily report fender bender accidents. This can help with property insurance claims and disputes over damage to leased or rented vehicles.
Contents of the Accident Report
All law enforcement officers in Texas use a standard accident report form called a CR-3.
The CR-3 contains several large sections that officers must complete, including:
- Case number, date, and location of the crash
- Vehicles, drivers, and other people, like pedestrians, involved
- Disposition of those injured or killed
- Damage, other than vehicle damage, caused by the crash
- Criminal charges and traffic citations issued
- Commercial motor vehicles involved
- Factors like weather and road conditions that contributed to the crash
- A narrative description of what happened
- Witnesses interviewed
The investigating officers also include their information, such as their names and badge numbers.
Getting a Copy of the Accident Report
The Texas Department of Transportation provides a database to purchase copies of an accident report. You can order the accident report and pay online using the Crash Report Online Purchasing System. You can also order the report by mailing a request to the Texas Department of Transportation.
If your accident was investigated by the Houston Police Department, you can purchase your car accident report using the police department’s website.
Texas does not release accident reports to the public. To get an accident report, you must be at least one of the following:
- A person involved in the accident
- The legal representative of a person involved in the accident
- The employer of a person involved in a work-related accident
- A parent or legal guardian of a driver involved in the accident
- The owner of a vehicle or property damaged in the accident
- A policyholder for a vehicle involved in the accident
- An insurer covering a person or vehicle involved in the accident
- A media outlet
- A relative or executor entitled to bring a wrongful death action for someone killed in the accident
Anyone who does not fall into these categories can only access a redacted version of the accident report.
Using a Car Accident Report
Car accident reports provide a wealth of information. From these reports, you can learn the identity of each driver involved in your accident and their insurance information. You will also get a list of witnesses who saw what happened.
But the most important information is the narrative of what happened. The investigating officer will describe the sequence of events, including whose actions triggered the accident. This will provide the basis for seeking compensation for any injuries you suffered due to the at-fault driver’s negligence.