How Do I Get a Police Report for a Car Accident in Massachusetts?
Getting a police report after a car accident can be helpful for many reasons. First, your insurance company or lawyer might ask for a copy, so having one at the ready will be important. Second, these reports contain vital information about your accident. But how do you get a copy?
In Massachusetts, you can usually get a police report directly from the police department that responded to your accident or from the State Police. This can be done in person in many towns and cities, but you can also submit request forms online. Third-party websites might also host reports for some jurisdictions, but be careful with unofficial reports.
For help after a car accident, call Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407. Our Boston car accident injury attorneys offer free case evaluations and can help you understand the information in your police report.
How to Get a Police Report for a Massachusetts Car Accident
In Massachusetts, most jurisdictions make it clear on their websites that you have a right to make a record request to get a police report. However, these websites do not often make it very clear how you go about filing that records request or what steps you have to take to get yourself a copy of a police report for a car accident.
Through a Police Department Website
The first place you can look to find a copy of a police report for your car accident is the website for the police department that handled your accident. Many Massachusetts police departments have pages on their site telling you how to make a records request, such as this one for Boston or this one for Cambridge.
Some states use online portals through which you can retrieve your police report. Individual police departments in Massachusetts usually do not, and reports can be obtained by emailing the records office a request for records. There may be forms to fill out and attach when submitting a request this way.
The fees for requesting a report this way might vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions also are not clear as to whether these systems are for regular records requests – e.g., a police report related to a crime – as opposed to records requests specifically for police reports for Massachusetts car accidents. Because of this lack of clarity, it might be easier to contact a car accident lawyer or use a different system.
Online Through the State Police
You can request a police report from the Massachusetts State Police online. This form allows you to submit a request for a report that way. The State Police might not have your police report if the crash was handled by a local police department, which is common for most accidents in town. In most cases though, this portal can find reports filed by local police agencies in Massachusetts – but there might be a delay between the time they write the report and the time it becomes available on this website.
Getting a police report this way costs $20 per copy. This money is paid when you do the search/submit the request, and it is non-refundable. Make sure you enter all of the information you have correctly and avoid typos to avoid being charged multiple times for multiple searches. If you cannot find your report this way, contact your local PD or call a lawyer for help.
Over the Phone
Both the Massachusetts State Police and most police departments throughout the Commonwealth can also handle records requests over the phone. If a report cannot be found this way, you may need to submit paperwork, making it better to do this online or in person.
Police departments can also handle records requests in person. Contact the local police department that handled the crash report or check their website for additional information about any forms you need, when their hours are, and where to report to request a copy.
Some third-party websites work in collaboration with local police departments to host copies of police reports. Sometimes these reports are redacted or incomplete, and they will not always be accepted as an “official” copy. Check with a Cambridge car accident lawyer before looking for a copy of the report this way, as you might be better off using a different system, or relying on the lawyer to help you get a copy of the crash report.
Information Needed to Access a Crash Report in Massachusetts
First off, it is important to understand that you can usually only access a police report if you were actually involved in the crash (or if you are getting the report on behalf of someone involved in the crash). Check with the local police department or your Malden car accident attorney if you have any questions about your ability to access the report. As for the information needed, you can usually access a police report with very basic information about the crash and who was involved.
The information of the person submitting the request and the information about the driver are both needed to access a report. Since you’re probably requesting the report for yourself, this would obviously be the same information. You will also need information about the crash, such as the date and location of the accident.
What Info is in a Massachusetts Police Report for a Car Accident?
The information contained in a police report for your car accident is much the same as the information you can collect yourself at the scene of the accident. However, this information is usually quite detailed. The officer who wrote up the report will have experience looking for these kinds of facts and reporting them – something you might not have the experience to do on your own.
Generally, police reports for car crashes in Massachusetts contain the following details:
- Info about the drivers and passengers
- Info about witnesses
- Vehicle information
- Information on how the crash happened
- Traffic control device details (signs, traffic lights, etc.)
- Notes on road, weather, and lighting conditions
- The location of the accident
- The time and date of the crash
- A diagram of the accident
- Any notes about suspected/confirmed intoxication or drug use
- Notes on injuries sustained in the crash
If you were injured in the accident and needed to go to the hospital, a police report can also function as a replacement for your own research and evidence collection. Your Somerville car accident injury lawyers can use this information to help build your case.
Call Our Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyers for Help
If you need help accessing a police report and handling your car accident case, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan’s Wakefield car accident attorneys today. For a free case review, call us at (617) 925-6407.