How to Get a Copy of a Police Report After An Accident in Arizona
By Zachary Mushkatel on September 14, 2020
The first official record of a car accident is often the police report filed by an officer who responded to a 911 call for help. It provides the basics about who was involved and what happened and may indicate who was at fault.
If you were injured or had property damage of more than $2,000 in a crash in Phoenix, a police report should exist. You should obtain a copy for an insurance claim in Arizona. You can also file an accident report even if you have not been injured and suffered little damage, and you should do so to protect yourself against a claim someone else may file.
At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker PLLC, we help Arizonans who have been injured by others in car accidents seek full compensation for their losses. We start our investigations by talking with our clients and then gather evidence, including a copy of the police accident report.
Filing a Car Accident Report in Arizona
Under Arizona law, if you are a driver involved in an accident that causes injury or death, you must immediately report the accident to the local police department, county sheriff’s office, or the nearest office of the state highway patrol. Another statute requires law enforcement personnel to complete a written accident report if they investigate an accident that causes death, injury or property damage in excess of $2,000.
At the minimum, an accident report will include:
- The time and date of the accident.
- The location of the accident.
- Identifying information for all involved parties and witnesses, including name, age, sex, address, telephone number, vehicle ownership and registration and proof of insurance.
- A narrative description of the facts of the accident, a simple diagram of the scene of the accident and the investigating officer’s name, agency and identification number.
The easiest way to file a car accident report is to phone 911 as soon as you are able to after a crash.
The law enforcement agency that creates the report is then required to prepare the report within 24 hours and forward a copy of the report to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The agency is also required to provide a copy of the report to anyone who was involved in the accident or the owner of a vehicle involved in the accident or a representative of the person or owner.
Insurance companies that have provided coverage to a driver involved in the crash may also obtain a copy, such as a lawyer investigating on behalf of a person involved in the accident.
Obtaining a Copy of a Car Accident Report in Arizona
In some cases, the responding police officer, sheriff’s deputy or highway patrol trooper who responded to your accident will give you a copy of their report before departing the accident scene. If not, you should get the officer’s name and badge number and, if possible, the accident report number.
After several days, contact the local office of the law enforcement agency that handled your accident call and request a copy of the report from your car accident. There will likely be a small fee.
For example, you can obtain an accident report from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for $5 for the first 10 pages and $.50 for each additional page. It may be 7-14 business days before a report is available. The Department advises that “reports may be delayed depending on the severity of the crash. Accidents involving serious and/or fatal injuries may take months to complete.”
Contact the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Departmental Reports Section at (602) 876-1078 to find out whether a report is available and its cost.
You can visit the Sheriff’s Office at 550 W Jackson St., Phoenix, AZ, to get your copy.
You can also get a copy online through a vendor known as BuyCrash for $5 plus a vendor’s fee if the crash did not cause serious injuries or death. These are not available online.
Several Arizona law enforcement agencies use BuyCrash, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and the Surprise and Scottsdale police departments. You’ll need the accident date and the report number to obtain a report through this service.
If the Arizona Highway Patrol responded to your crash on an interstate or state highway, you can obtain a copy of the accident report from the Records Unit of the AZ Department of Public Safety online. To do so, you must complete a request form and pay a fee of $9 in most cases (see more info at the link).
As suggested above, if you have engaged an attorney to help you with an accident claim, the attorney will obtain the accident report as part of their investigation.
How a Police Accident Report Affects Your Claim
An insurance adjuster notified of your claim will start their investigation by obtaining the police accident report. An adjuster’s objective is to find a way to deny your claim or to pay as little as possible to settle the claim. However, if the police report clearly indicates that their policyholder was at fault, then the insurer may offer some kind of a low settlement to limit the insurer’s liability. You should not accept any quick settlement offer without having an experienced personal injury lawyer review it.
As we investigate an accident, we’ll start with the police report as well as our client’s statement to us. When the police report doesn’t indicate who was at fault, it is our task to determine responsibility for the accident. Our hope would be to find evidence that can convince the adjuster or, if necessary, a jury that the other driver caused the accident that injured our client.
When a claim goes to court, a police report accompanied by the officer’s testimony carries a lot of weight with a judge or jury. Law enforcement officers give first-hand testimony about accidents they have investigated and are trained to make sure testimony and written reports are consistent.
In the best-case scenario, the additional evidence we compile pointing to the other driver’s negligence enhances the police officer’s findings as recorded in the accident report. After calculating all of your expenses and losses from the accident, we can approach the insurer with a proper demand for a full and fair settlement payment to you.
Contact an Arizona Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident that someone else caused in the Phoenix metro area, including Sun City, Scottsdale, Glendale or Peoria, contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, for assistance with an injury claim. We can provide a timely, confidential and free initial consultation about your legal options. Call us at (480) 467-3434 or connect with us online.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.