When an individual is involved in a California traffic incident, among the first steps that ought to be taken is to call the police and emergency personnel so that they can file a police record regarding the matter.
California Vehicle Code Section 20008 states that anyone involved in a traffic accident that results in injuries or damage is required to report it to the DMV, the police, or call 911 within 24 hours, although it is common that the officer that is responsible to respond to the scene of the accident will be able to report the accident for the affected parties.
While so much of the police report won’t be admissible as evidence in a court of law, it can nonetheless be helpful to your legal counsel as the initial stage of assessing your case. Likewise, your insurance company will require the police report during the process of making a claim to fix the issue.
Having been one of the preeminent personal injury law firms in California, we at Akhavan Law Firm feel that it is our duty to teach you what goes into the procedure of getting police reports, as well as how best to read them. For victims or their relatives considering legal action, it might appear like this legal form is only intended for attorneys and insurance adjusters. But knowing how this spreadsheet actually works and what data goes into it will help you better understand the legal process.
What is a California Accident Report?
A CHP 555, also known as a traffic collision report or police report, is a document filed by the police to notify a traffic accident. A CHP 555 is a document filed by the police to notify a traffic accident. The form includes:
- Date of the accident
- Details on the collision
- Information collected by the police officers at the scene
- Witness information and statements
- Estimated damage from the accident
This report is essential in developing your personal injury claim because it features each party’s statements and catalyst for the crash and offers your attorney with the info needed to compute your settlement for your injuries.
Who Can Request a Copy of the Accident Report?
According to the California Highway Patrol, a party involved in or interested in the particulars of the accident can request for an accident report from the police or DMV by filling out the CHP 190 form for the release of information. In this form, the CHP asks for the specified party of interest’s data like:
- Date, location, and time of the accident
- Names of the individuals driving or owners of the vehicle in question
- Your relation to the accident
- The address to which the report should be sent
- Payment for the report in check or money order form (usually around $10 depending on the report length)
- Notarized photocopy of your ID card or state driver’s license.
You can obtain a copy of the CHP 190 through the CHP site or by filling it out via mail. Upon receipt of payment, you will receive the report on an enclosed form. If you don’t know the office where the report to the CHP must be sent and, accordingly, where you must mail the request form, you may always get in touch with the CHP headquarters by phone (916) 843-3000 to inquire about the process.
Note that you can also request California Highway Patrol assistance in the area, though the application procedure is similar to the one via mail. The main advantage of this procedure is that you can pay in cash for the report, giving you more control of your payment.
To create a report on-site you must provide an Identity card as well as pay fees for the report. Once you do that you will have to contact CHP headquarters to get more information about where your report was filed.
The parties that can request a traffic collision report include but aren’t limited to:
- Insurance companies
- Attorneys representing either side of the claim
- Family members of the victim
- Parents in case minors were involved in the accident
How is the California Car Accident Report Composed?
The Akhavan Law Firm has reviewed thousands of police reports, and with that experience we know how they are structured, giving us the edge to make the best possible review of your case.
The police document usually runs about 3 to 4 pages in length, recording all the details of the incident, such as the names of the vehicles involved, the accident’s description, the injuries sustained by victims and witnesses, and those who were responsible for the accident. This will help you better understand your case.
Having an understanding of the police report will help you better understand what you have to read.
Page one of the Car accident Report
The first page of the police report has the information and details of the drivers involved in the collision and up to three involved parties. It has 3 distinct sections:
1. Section One – Top Section
In the police report’s top half, the police would list any Special Conditions that apply to your case, such as being contacted by emergency vehicles, fatalities, or a late report. If the incident was a hit-and-run, this section specifies the number of injured individuals, including any pedestrians in the area, as well as the location of the accident, time and date, and applicable court district. The page also specifies information such as the investigating officer’s ID number.
2. Section Two-Party one
The bulk of what is included in this section of the major portion of the police report is the first page. Here, the names of all parties involved in the accident are listed; this section is for up to three participants in the event. When more than 3 different parties were involved, the police will add additional pages to complete the incident information.
The data collected on this form page is:
- Driver’s license number (left blank for pedestrians)
- Contact information and demographic of the drivers
- Airbag section to see if they were deployed or not
- Safety equipment box to see if seatbelts, helmets, and other protective equipment was used correctly
- The direction of travel and speed limit
- Vehicle information including year, make, model, and license plates
- Any mechanical defects in the vehicles involved
- Initial damage assessment by the police officer at the scene
3. Bottom Section
Here, the preparer’s name will be listed and the reviewer’s will be listed at the precinct as police officer’s number.
Page two of the Police Report
Here in this file the officer at the scene will list his name and number as the police officer’s number, while the reviewer’s name is the name and ID number of the officer at the precinct who reviewed the report.
The subheading under the second column describes the type and severity of the car accident, as well as the type of vehicles and road controls in place at the time of the accident, as well as any pedestrians involved.
The column to the left of the second column contains data for the type of the accident and the types of vehicles involved, including information about the their shoes. In addition, if pedestrians were affected, this information can be found in the list of vehicular traffic control devices after the collision.
The section listed in the third column from the left is which shows the type of vehicles involved and related problems, as well as pertinent notes, which the police officer would add in the third column from the right. This is particularly important and can play a critical role in the case, more so if liability for the collision is disputed between the parties.
The rightmost column on the second page will mark the specific details regarding the movements of the vehicles involved in the car accident such as:
- Going straight on the road
- Making a left or right turn
- Back up
- Making a U-turn
- Slowing down or stopping
- Passing another vehicle
- Being parked
- Traveling the wrong way
- Other movements preceding the collision
The last two entries of the last row will be notes about whether either driver was under the effects of drugs or alcohol. It is straightforward to understand that driving under the influence is responsible for a lot of car accidents each year, so if you’re one of the victims in a traffic collision where the intoxicated driver caused the accident, this information proves useful in documenting the injuries you suffered and if your claims against the other driver hold up in court.
Page three of the Police Report
The third page of the document gives us an account of the damaged parties, victims, and witnesses of the accident. The top of the document should look the same on each subsequent page.
For the incident report, the first, more detailed paragraphs should detail the injured parties’ participation, and then their witnesses and the final, uninjured parties. Throughout that description, the story must be consistent with the first section of page 1 of the report.
Each section of this block contains information like the individual’s name, contact information, explanation and treatment location for the accident as well as that the witnesses and their investigating officer’s names and ID numbers are on this list.
The fourth page is used by the police to establish a representation of the scene of the accident that the investigating officer will assess. Your attorney will review this information to determine whether or not it’s possible to dispute any contradictory statements from other parties or if any of them played an active role in the accident.
Got in an Accident? Contact Us!
Now that you understand how to read and interpret the police report for a car accident in California if you get into an accident in this state, it is absolutely essential to call your approved personal-injury attorney to go over the police report and establish legal responsibility in your case.
Akhavan Law Firm has successfully fought for the rights of all its clients for many years, and we will never stop striving to get you the greatest claim possible. Our goal is always to help our injured customers get compensated for the injuries they have sustained.
If you have been in a California car accident, don’t hesitate to contact us at (800) 726-4878. Or you can book a Free Consultation call Below.