How Long do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Houston?
Texas drivers who are involved in car accidents must comply with certain state laws, which include a mandatory reporting requirement. Whether an accident victim follows these rules or not can have important repercussions on the outcome of any subsequent claims for damages, so if you were involved in a car crash, you should speak with an experienced Houston car accident attorney about reporting the collision and filing a claim against the at-fault party.
Car accidents can be traumatic, so reporting a crash is often the last thing on an injured party’s mind. Making a timely report, however, is extremely important and in some cases, is even required by law. For instance, accident victims are required to complete and submit a Driver’s Crash Report within 10 days of their crash if a police report was not filed and:
- The accident resulted in physical injury or death; or
- The accident resulted in property damage of at least $1,000 or more to at least one person’s property.
Reports must also include specific information, including details about the filer’s insurance coverage. The Department of Transportation then cross checks this information with the insurer listed on the report. If a person did not have liability insurance at the time of the accident, he or she will then be required to pay a $250 fee or risk having his or her license suspended. Those who report car accidents are also encouraged to keep a copy of the document after mailing the original to the Texas Department of Transportation.
How do you report a car accident if the police never showed up?
Reporting the Accident to the Police
Even accident victims who do not have any obvious injuries or are unsure about the level of damage sustained to the vehicles involved should still report a crash. This is important because many injuries do not manifest until hours or days after the accident, and if a person waits to report an accident, the at-fault party may raise questions as to why he or she did not report the injuries earlier. It can also make proving that an accident was the cause of an injury much more difficult. Furthermore, those who report their accident to the police immediately after it occurs can use the police report at a later date as evidence supporting a claim.
The best way to report a car accident in Texas is to call 911. Once an officer arrives at the scene, he or she will speak to all of the parties involved, ensure that injured parties receive medical attention, and eventually create an accident report. This report can then be obtained by the parties at a later date and can be used to help demonstrate fault. Many accident victims are also required to report an accident to their insurer within a certain period of time, so it is a good idea to be familiar with your own insurer’s policies.
Is it illegal if I fail to file a police report after a collision?
You have to report most – but not all – types of accidents in Texas to the police. Under state law, you must stop at the crash scene and call the police if the collision causes:
- Bodily injury or death
- Damage to one or more vehicles of more than $1,000.
So, if you are involved in a collision which results in no injuries or obvious vehicle damage, you do not have to report it to the police. Otherwise, you do need to file a police report. But if you fail to file a report when Texas law requires it, you could face jail time, a $5,000-plus fine or both.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we think the best practice for you to follow is to file a police report after any kind of collision – just in case. You don’t want to break the law. You also want to document the crash and improve your ability to recover full and fair compensation.
After a crash, the other driver may insist that “it’s no big deal” and say “there’s no reason to get the police involved.” Don’t listen to it. The driver could provide you with a false name or contact information, or the driver could deny that the accident ever happened. The risk is not worth it.
What should I do at the crash scene while I wait for the police?
If you call 911, the dispatcher will send an officer to your crash. Within minutes, the officer should arrive and secure the scene, check on everyone’s condition and, if necessary, call for an ambulance.
The officer will also investigate what happened. The officer will then have 10 days to file a Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3 form) to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
While you wait for the officer to get to your crash, you should:
- Check the condition of yourself, the other driver and any passengers.
- Take photos with your cell phone of the individuals and vehicles involved in the crash as well as debris, tire marks, traffic controls and other aspects of the surrounding scene.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses or bystanders (who typically leave shortly after the police arrive).
The police officer should get the other driver’s information, including the driver’s name, contact information and auto insurance information. You should ask the officer for his or her name and the incident number. This information will help you to get a copy of the crash report later on.
How do I file a police report after a car accident in Houston?
Even if you do not call the police after an auto accident, you may want to file a report with TxDOT on your own. You can do this by completing a Driver’s Crash Report (CR-2 form). You should be ready to provide information about the accident such as:
- Time and date
- Make, model and year of involved vehicles
- Vehicle and other property damage
- Any injuries
- Your own statement about what happened.
Like the officer, you must file this report with TxDOT within 10 days after the accident. If you have any problems with filing the report, a member of our legal team at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., can help you.
How long does it take to get a copy of the police crash report?
If a police officer responds to your crash, the officer must file a report within 10 days after the date of the accident. A copy of the report should be available within five to eight days after the officer files it. So, typically, you should be able to order a copy of the report within roughly two weeks after your accident. If you have any trouble getting a copy, you should let your lawyer at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., know right away. We can get a copy for you.
How can I order a copy of the police report?
To order a copy of the police report (CR-3 form) on your own, you can take one of two options:
Contact the law enforcement agency – You can order a copy directly from the police department or sheriff’s office that filed the report. For instance, you can obtain a copy from the Houston Police Department. To do so, you must provide at least two of the following:
- Date of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Names of any drivers or other parties involved
- Incident number (if you have it).
You can get a copy from the HPD in one of three ways:
- Go online – If you get a copy online, the fee is $7.50. HPD provides only a redacted version online. So, the report will have no drivers’ names or contact information.
- Get a copy in person – The fee is $6. You can go to the Records Division office located on the first floor at 1200 Travis Street, Houston, TX 77002. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Order a copy through the mail – You can send a check or money order for $6 to “HPD Records Division” at the address above.
Get a copy through TxDOT – You can also order a copy of the crash report online through the TxDOT website. If your crash occurred more than three years ago, going through TxDOT will be the only way to get a copy. The cost is $6 for a regular copy of the report and $8 for a certified copy. You can also send a check or money order for the type of copy that you want to:
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 149349
Austin, TX 78714
After a car accident, you will have many things to worry about. If you need any help with getting a copy of your crash report, we will take care of it for you at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C.
Do I need to report the accident to my auto insurance company?
Texas law does not require you to report your crash to your auto insurance provider. However, most insurance companies require you to do so anyway. You should look closely at your own policy and see how much time you have after your accident in which to report it. You should make sure to comply with this reporting requirement. You may have to report it within days.
Down the road, you may need to turn to your own auto insurance policy for coverage of your losses. For instance, you may need to file:
- An uninsured or underinsured motorist claim (UM/UIM) – You could file a UM claim if the driver who caused your accident had no insurance, or if you were hurt in a hit-and-run crash. You would file a UIM claim if the driver’s insurance failed to cover all of your losses.
- Collision or comprehensive – A collision policy will cover the damage to your car in a crash, regardless of who was at fault. Comprehensive will cover any non-collision damage to your vehicle. If you finance your car, your lender probably requires you to have both of these types of coverage.
If you fail to report your crash on time, the insurer could use that delay to deny coverage. If you have any questions, you can simply ask your lawyer for help.
Can I file an insurance claim without a police report?
If you have a police report, it will make it much easier for you to file your insurance claim. You can simply provide basic information about you and your policy. Then, you can forward a copy of the crash report to the claim adjuster.
However, if you do not have a police report, an auto insurance provider may still provide a way for you to file a claim. An adjuster will simply need to get information from you that the police report would have provided. Just keep in mind: Without a police report, the insurer may take a longer time to make a decision on your claim.
How will I use the police report in my case?
A copy of the Peace Officer’s Crash Report can benefit your case in many ways. Above all, the report will provide you and your lawyer at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., with some basic information, including:
- Date and time of the crash
- Location of the crash
- Names of all drivers and others involved
- Insurance information
- Road and weather conditions
- Whether the officer issued any citations
- The officer’s assessment of factors that caused the collision.
So, if anything, a copy of the crash report will help our legal team to begin our immediate investigation of your crash. If we detect any errors in the report, we can pass that on to the police. We may find that our investigation matches the police report or contradicts it.
The police report, on its own, generally cannot be admitted at trial. However, the officer who prepared the report may provide an affidavit or sworn testimony.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve
Call personal injury lawyers Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., at 737-201-0543 today to discuss your own car accident with an experienced and compassionate car accident attorney.