In any situation where police respond to the scene of a car accident or other type of incident, one of the police officers responding to the incident should prepare and file a formal police report. In auto accident cases the police accident report is done on a standard form called the State of Maryland Motor Vehicle Crash Report. A different type of police report is filed for non-auto accident situations and there is no standard format. Filing auto accident reports is standard procedure for the Howard County Police Department.
What to Expect in a Howard County Police Report
In an auto accident, a written police report regarding the accident is always a critical piece of evidence in any insurance claim or negligence lawsuit arising out of the accident. Police usually do quite a bit of investigation when they get called out to car accident. Among other things, responding officers will interview the drivers, identify potential witnesses and get some type of written or oral statement from everyone. They also analyze any physical evidence at the accident scene including the location of the vehicles, the extent, and nature of any vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, and so forth.
The police accident report contains a narrative of the facts of the accident based on the officer’s investigation of this evidence. The auto accident report also contains a list of the various involved drivers and the names and contact info for potential witnesses. All of this information is provided in easy to locate fields on the State of Maryland Motor Vehicle Crash Report. The Maryland VCR also has a box for a “diagram” of the accident and a written factual narrative.
How Much Detail Will You Get?
The level of detail and quality of the information in police accident reports tends to vary widely depending on the individual officer and the extent of his or her investigative efforts. The fields in the VCR are not mandatory so some police accident reports only contain very minimal details, particularly regarding evidence, witnesses and other things outside of the basic facts of the accident. Most police accident reports we see from the Howard County Police Department are fairly high quality and detailed. Howard County really does have of the best police forces in Maryland. So there is a higher level of competency when it comes to writing police reports. If it is a wrongful death case, the police report will be authored by an accident reconstructionist and will be extremely comprehensive.
Even if the accident report contains minimal details, the police report is still extremely important in establishing fault and getting compensation for an accident. Sometimes there is no police accident report, but 98% of the time if police respond to an accident scene a written accident report will be filed. You or your lawyer will eventually need to get a hold of any accident reports if you want to get compensation from the negligent driver. Just bear in mind that the police report is not the be all, end all, for your accident case.
How to Obtain Police Reports From the Howard County Police Department
There are 3 different types of reports/records that can be requested from the Howard County Police Department:
- Accident Reports (for auto accidents)
- Existing Crime Report (for criminal investigations)
- 911 Call Recordings
Crime Reports and 911 Call Recordings can be requested by completing a form and submitting it by mail or in person along with a check for the applicable fees. Auto accident reports for Howard County can be accessed and obtained online through CrashDocs, an online accident records database provided through CarFax. HCPD is one of a number of Maryland police departments that uses the CrashDocs system for accident reports.
To look up and request a Howard County police accident report on the CrashDocs system you will need to provide the driver’s last name, date of the accident, AND the actual accident report number. Without the accident report number you won’t be able to obtain the report. This means you may have to call the HCPD first to find out what the accident report # is. Once you have the report number you can pay the fee online and access the report in minutes.
Maryland Restrictions on Obtaining Police Reports Within 60 Days
Maryland recently passed a new law limiting public access to police accident reports within the first 60 days after the incident. As a result, to obtain a police accident report sooner than 60 days after the accident date you will need to deal with some additional red tape. First, you will need a signed certification stating that you have a valid reason for the report and will not use it for commercial solicitation. You also must present a valid driver’s license.
Other Howard County Resources
- Howard County Venue A detailed discussion and analysis of Howard County as a venue for personal injury cases in comparison to other Maryland jurisdictions.
- Injury Claims in Maryland Counties Each Maryland county presents a unique environment for personal injury claims and lawsuits. This page looks at some of the best and worst venues and what makes them unique.
Howard County Car Accident Lawyers
Miller & Zois has handled hundreds of car accident claims and medical malpractice lawsuits in Howard County with great success. Two of our lawyers live in Howard County. We know this jurisdiction extremely well.
If you were injured in a Howard County auto accident, contact us for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.