Anytime the police are called out to respond to a car accident or other type of incident, one of the responding officers is supposed to prepare and file a formal police report. In an auto accident situation, the police file an accident report. For non-accident situations, a different type of police report is filed. This is standard police practice in Baltimore City as well as other jurisdictions in Maryland.
A police report for an auto accident can often be a key piece of evidence in a subsequent auto tort lawsuit or claim. When the police respond to an auto accident, they typically get statements from the involved drivers as well as any witnesses to the accident.
Police also examine any physical evidence at the accident scene such as skid marks from tires, the location of the vehicles, the location, type of damage to the cars, and so forth. Based on these various sources of information the officer decides what likely happened. The officer may also conclude as to who was at fault for the accident and issue any traffic citations if appropriate.
All of these determinations and a factual summary of the incident are outlined in the police report. All police accident reports in Maryland use the same form called the State of Maryland Motor Vehicle Crash Report. The Maryland VCR has information fields for location and other vital data such as driver names. It also has a box for a “diagram” of the accident and a written factual narrative.
How Much Details Will the Report Have
Wrongful death car accident cases in Baltimore City are extremely detailed reports done by a trained accident reconstructionist. Otherwise, the level of detail and information you get in narrative and diagram sections of a police accident report can be hit or miss.
In some cases, the accident report may only contain very minimal details about what happened or the supporting evidence. This is particularly true in Baltimore City, especially for comparatively minor accidents. Even with limited details, however, the police report is still crucial. If you are injured in an auto accident and the police come out there is going to be some sort of police accident report filed. If you ever plan to pursue a claim or lawsuit you or your lawyer will eventually need to get a hold of the police accident report.
How to Obtain Accident Reports From the Baltimore City Police Department
You have 2 options for requesting a police accident report in Baltimore City. First, you can request the report the old-fashioned way by submitting a letter along with a check for the applicable fee. The letter should set forth all the relevant details of the accident (date, time, parties involved, etc., etc.) and then make it clear that you are requesting a copy of the police accident report. You will also need to enclose a $10 check made payable to the “Director of Finance” for the applicable fee. See our sample police report request letter for a template.
In Baltimore City, you can also search for and request a police accident online using the Lexis-Nexis police accident report system. Baltimore City is one of the few jurisdictions in Maryland that utilizes this system. The system enables users to look up a police report with a report # or search for existing reports by last name and accident date or last name and accident location.
Once you enter your search fields the system will pull up all available police reports matching those criteria. Then you can click “add to cart” for each report you want to get a copy of. Once you’ve finished adding all of the reports to your cart you can proceed to check out and obtain PDF and certified mail copies of the reports you purchased.
Maryland Restrictions on Obtaining Police Reports Within 60 Days
In 2007, Maryland enacted a new law restricting access to police accident reports in the first 60 days. To obtain a police accident report within the first 60 days after the accident date, you must present a valid driver’s license, proof that you have a legitimate reason for the request, and a signed certification that you will not use the report for commercial solicitation. This law makes obtaining a police report in the first 60 days much more difficult, at least from a paperwork perspective.
Other Baltimore City Resources
Our jurisdictional analysis of Baltimore City as venue for personal injury claims and lawsuits. The City continues to be the most favorable venue for plaintiffs in Maryland.
A summary of recent verdicts and reported settlements from personal injury cases brought in Baltimore City. See how much injury cases are worth in Baltimore City.
A list and short bio for all of the Baltimore City judges for both the Circuit Court and the District Court.
Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury lawsuits in Baltimore City.