Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Texas?
Car accident reports are public records in Texas. But the public version of the report contains redactions. This version lacks useful information, like names, addresses, and insurance policy numbers. As a result, your lawyer cannot use the public version to investigate your car accident or gather the evidence you need for your injury claim.
The unredacted version of the accident report is not a public record. The state only releases this version of the accident report to certain people. Fortunately, you and your attorney both qualify for an unredacted copy of your crash report.
What Is in a Car Accident Report?
After a crash in Texas, you must:
- Stop your vehicle at the accident scene
- Assist anyone injured
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver
You must immediately report your crash to the police when the collision causes:
- Disabling damage to a vehicle
The police will send officers to manage the crash scene and investigate the collision. The investigating officers will call an ambulance for anyone who requires one and direct traffic to keep the accident victims safe.
Once they have secured the scene, they will investigate the crash. The officers will interview all the drivers and passengers involved in the collision. While speaking to the drivers, they will gather insurance and driver’s license information. The officers will also talk to pedestrians and cyclists if you have a pedestrian accident.
The officers will take photos of the vehicles and the accident scene. They will interview bystander witnesses. They may take measurements of skid marks. They might even access video footage from any nearby traffic cameras.
The police use this information to prepare a written crash report. In Texas, the officers have ten days to write and file the report.
This report will include:
- Names and addresses of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle owners
- Names and addresses of witnesses
- Insurance policy information
- Traffic citations issued
- Narrative description of the crash
- Diagram of the crash scene
The investigating officers will sign the report and provide the name of their agency and their badge numbers.
Who Can Get a Car Crash Report in Texas?
Texas law tries to strike a balance between public transparency and privacy. It allows the public to access crash reports. However, the public version does not have any personally identifying information like names, driver’s license numbers, and insurance policy numbers. As a result, the public version has limited use in a crash investigation. Read more about Texas statute of limitations here/
The state releases unredacted copies to:
- Parties involved in the accident
- Owners of property damaged in the crash
- Parents of minors involved
- Insurers and attorneys for any of the above
To get a copy of the crash report, you can access the crash report portal operated by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). When you buy a copy of a crash report in Texas, including using the portal, you must certify that you qualify for an unredacted copy. If you cannot, you will only receive a redacted copy.
Using a Crash Report for Your Injury Claim
Crash reports are not admissible evidence in court. But your injury attorney can use a crash report to gather admissible evidence. For example, the crash report will tell your lawyer which witnesses to interview. It will provide admissible photographs. It will also tell your lawyer whether the other driver received a citation after the collision.
Car accident reports can provide valuable information for an injury claim. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer to learn how your crash report could support your case.
Contact the Bedford Car Accident Lawyers at Parker Law Firm Injury Lawyers for Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Parker Law Firm Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have convenient locations in Fort Worth and Bedford, Texas.