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Posted in Car accident on July 29, 2019
A car accident report is an official law enforcement document recounting the details of your crash. In West Virginia, the law requires you to report a car accident if it causes $1,000 or more in damages, personal injuries or deaths. When you report a crash to 911, one or more officers will visit the scene, interview those involved and put together a crash report.
You must also file a separate report with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for crashes involving injuries or over $500 in damages. As a victim, you may need copies of these car accident reports for the processes that come next – such as an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Every police officer that investigates a car accident that results in bodily injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in damages on a public street must fill out and file a police report documenting the accident. The officer must interview anyone involved in the accident and record the answers within 24 hours of completing the investigation. Interviews typically happen at the scene, but the officer may contact witnesses for follow-up questions later. The report must contain certain information pertaining to the accident.
When an officer finishes a car accident report, he or she will send it to the Division of Highways. The submitted report must be in writing or delivered electronically. The division will process the police report and distribute it to all involved law-enforcement agencies or officers. A police officer has a maximum of 10 days after a car accident to submit a report. If by day 10 the officer has not completed his or her crash investigation, the officer must submit a preliminary report with everything gathered so far.
As a crash victim, you have the right to request a copy of the accident report the responding officer submitted. Wait at least 10 days after the accident. Then, contact the law enforcement office closest to where the crash occurred. Give the clerk the date and location of the accident, as well as your name, to find your report.
You may need to pay a fee to purchase a copy of the accident report. The fee can range from a $20 print fee to over $500 for a longer document known as a reconstructed report. A reconstructed report contains a comprehensive look into what might have caused the accident based on an expert opinion from a professional reconstructionist. These documents typically only exist if an insurance company, West Virginia car accident lawyer, or other investigator hires a reconstructionist to look into the accident for further evidence.
It is up to you as a driver to submit a crash report to the DMV within the time limit. Do this by filling out and submitting Form AR-13 to the DMV office in the county where the accident occurred. You can download and print the form or get a copy from your local DMV office. This form validates whether you had adequate vehicle insurance at the time of the collision.
If you forget or fail to file this report, the DMV could suspend your driving privileges. Keep a copy of your accident report by printing an extra for yourself before sending it electronically or by mail to the DMV. An insurance company may want to see copies of this report later. A personal injury attorney could help you get copies of all police reports and other accident-related documents before you file your injury claim in West Virginia.