How to Request a Police report for a Car Accident in Monterey and Monterey County
Obtaining a police report is an important step in any personal injury case where a car accident is involved. In California, a police report for a car accident is actually called a Traffic Collision Report. It is a form developed by the California Highway Patrol and used by local police departments as well. However, most people simply refer to these reports as “police reports.”
The police reports are important because of the information they obtain and how that information can be used. Police reports contain insurance information that will be needed in order to advance an insurance claim. Without exception, the report will list the vehicles involved, who owned them, the drivers of those vehicles and the insurance information provided at the scene. This information in the report is usually accurate. The only time it would not be is if the investigating officer failed to write it down correctly. However, having the officer collect this information is usually more reliable than trying to do it yourself if you were involved in the crash. Following a crash, you may be distracted, anxious or hurt and not be able to collect this information effectively.
What if the Driver Does not Provide Insurance Information at the Scene?
A driver must always provide insurance information after a car accident. In fact, under California law, a driver is required to always have insurance information available and carry it in the vehicle. California Vehicle Code Section 16020 (a) sets forth:
(a) All drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility pursuant to Section 16021, and shall at all times carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle.
Financial responsibility simply means proof of insurance or a certificate of self-insurance. The proof of financial responsibility must show that the driver has complied with California’s minimum insurance coverage law. This does not necessarily mean that a driver must have the actual proof of insurance in the car in paper format. Due to the advance of technology, being able to pull up the policy information digitally should be sufficient. If the driver or owner of a vehicle is unable to do this, he or she may be cited by law enforcement. If the driver is without insurance, he or she may also be cited and face more serious consequences. This may include suspension of that person’s driver’s license.
The At-Fault Driver or Owner’s Insurance Information Is Needed to Start an Injury Claim
The insurance information from a police report is needed to open any claims with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This includes both claims for property damage and bodily injury. The insurance company must be called and a claim started. To do this, one must call the insurance company, tell them about the accident and provide details about the crash and resulting injuries. Once the claim is opened, a unique claim number will be assigned as well as an adjuster or unit to handle the claim and begin the investigation.
We strongly recommend that you hire a personal injury attorney early and allow your attorney to start the claim.
The personal injury attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group will handle this process. We strongly recommend that you hire a personal injury attorney early and allow your attorney to start the claim. Otherwise, the insurance company agent that you speak with may try to obtain information about the car accident that can be used against you. Our attorneys have experience opening insurance claims and know what should and should not be communicated to the insurance company at all times throughout the claims process. This includes during the time the claim is initially reported and opened.
Police Reports Contain Important Information That May Determine if You Can Recover for Your Personal Injuries
A police report will show the investigating officer’s opinions and conclusions as to how the accident happened and who is at fault. Usually, when an officer responds to the scene of a car accident, he or she will begin collecting all the information necessary to write the crash report. This includes interviewing both drivers involved, all passengers and any witnesses. The investigating officer may take photographs and analyze the vehicles.
If the officer is trained in accident reconstruction, he or she may take measurements of skid marks, debris fields and other crash evidence. This does not usually happen with minor accidents, but does occur frequently with serious accidents with more severe injuries. Officers even have the ability to review and report about dash cam footage or surveillance from nearby businesses and residences. This footage may provide evidence about the crash and even conclusively prove who is at fault.
Most police reports include a finding of who was at fault for causing the car accident or traffic collision. This opinion is often listed in the narrative portion of the report. If the narrative portion does not set forth who is at fault, the first page will typically list the at-fault driver as the “Number 1” driver or party. As such, the person who is listed as “Party 1” is responsible unless the narrative sets forth that no finding of fault could be made or that the parties are both equally responsible.
Sometimes, the police report may also list citations given to the at-fault driver. This could include citations for minor traffic violations or even criminal citations for something more serious like driving under the influence. The investigating officer who writes the report is presumed to be unbiased. As such, his or her finding of fault may greatly increase your chance of recovering for your personal injury or property damage claim.
Insurance Companies Almost Always Follow the Findings of Fault in a Police Report in Deciding Whether or Not to Pay a Claim
The findings in a police report are routinely relied upon by insurance companies in determining who was at fault in a crash. As a result, the insurance companies typically only pay claims when it is their insured drivers who are found at fault by police. The only exception to this general rule, is if you can prove that the physical evidence shows that the findings in the police report are wrong. However, this takes considerable effort and usually an attorney must be involved. The personal injury attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group have succeeded in doing this several times. In sum, our attorneys have proven to insurance companies that the findings of fault in a police report were wrong. As a result, we were able to recover compensation for our clients when they otherwise would have received nothing for their injuries.
You should not allow the police report to have a finding of fault against you if you were not the one responsible. When questioned by police, it is important that you state your story with emphasis.
Convincing an insurance company to go against the findings in a police report is no easy task. As such, you should not allow the police report to have a finding of fault against you if you were not the one responsible. When questioned by police, it is important that you state your story with emphasis. This includes all events leading up to the crash and the time of impact. If you recollection of events is “wishy-washy,” you do not remember what happened, or if you do not have good control of the facts surrounding the crash, you may be found at fault when it was not your mistake that caused the crash.
How To Obtain A Police Report or Collision Report in Monterey and Monterey County
So how do you obtain a copy of the police report for your car accident in Monterey? The answer depends on which law enforcement agency wrote the report. In Monterey, there are three agencies that you will most likely encounter after a car accident. These include: Monterey Police Department, Monterey County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. Below are detailed instructions on how to obtain your police report from each agency. If you hire the Piccuta Law Group to handle your personal injury case, we will gladly obtain the police report for you.
Monterey Police Department
- Fill out this form to the best of your ability: https://files.monterey.org/Document%20Center/Police/Get%20Informed/Reports%20Records%20Permits/Application-for-Release-of-PoliceReport.pdf
- Email the completed form and a copy of your photo ID to email@example.com
- Pay the applicable fee
- Receive your report via email.
Monterey County Sheriff’s Office
- Go to this website: https://montereysheriff.org/formso1017/
- Fill out the questionnaire to the best of your ability
- Pay the applicable fee
- Receive your report online.
California Highway Patrol – Monterey Station
** Every California Highway Patrol Station implements their own policies and procedures pertaining to police reports. Always call your specific California Highway Patrol Station before submitting a request. **
For the Monterey Station, you will be required to do the following:
- Draft a written request for your police report. Make sure to have as much incident information as possible, including the names of the parties involved, the date, the time, the NCIC number, and the responding officer’s ID Number.
- Mail your request to California Highway Patrol, 960 E. Blanco Road, Salinas, CA 93901 and include a $10 check made payable to California Highway Patrol.
- Wait for your police report to be delivered.
Contact a Monterey Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident or other accident while on the roadway, hire a skilled personal injury attorney from the Piccuta Law Group today. Our Monterey car accident attorneys have handled hundreds of injury claims. We can obtain top dollar for your accident and injury case. We do not charge a fee unless we recover for you and advance all costs. We provide free consultations. Contact us today to discuss your car accident claim or personal injury case.
About the author: The content on this page was written by Monterey personal injury attorney and California civil rights lawyer Charles “Tony” Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report 2018). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout California and Arizona. He is a winning trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is AV Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project, Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association and Scottsdale Bar Association, among other organizations.
Disclaimer: The information on this web site is attorney advertising and is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Reading and relying upon the content on this page does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact our law firm for a free consultation and to discuss your specific case and issues.