May 17, 2018 Amanda Smith

Get Perspective on Police Reports

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Police reports are filed when accidents or criminal incidents occur. For insurance claims or legal action, the report provides official documentation that an incident occurred and gives basic information about the incident. Usually, the police report provides a foundation for a larger investigation, but it can also be an important component of settlement negotiation.

Even though police reports are generally treated as public records, the channels, procedures, and costs for accessing and retrieving these reports vary by state and jurisdiction. The Records Company retrieves police reports for clients who need these records for insurance claims or litigation. We use our expertise to access these reports quickly and negotiate the lowest cost allowed by law.

The Basics

Police departments may use specialized terminology to apply to different kinds of reports. Most commonly, a department may call a report of criminal activity a “police report” and a report of an accident or non-criminal activity an “incident report.” A department may choose to file a car crash as an “accident report.” These distinctions are a matter of naming and have little effect on the records retrieval process.

Initiating a police report isn’t the sole domain of police officers. An individual citizen can visit a local department and initiate a police report even if police aren’t present for an incident, such as cases of fraud, property damage, or domestic events. Police officers initiate reports in response to emergency calls, violent events, and accidents.

A police report records identifying information about the parties involved in an incident, including full names, addresses, phone numbers, and ID numbers. For a car accident, the report also records information about the vehicles involved. The report then documents where and when the incident occurred along with details about the responding officers and about the scene, which may include witness statements, diagrams, and descriptions.

Police Reports and Privacy

Victims and defendants have a right to full access to police reports related to their own cases. Third parties can also access police reports, but some restrictions apply. Departments may limit access to police records if the release of information violates the privacy of minors, endangers the lives of those mentioned in the report, or interferes with an investigation. Even if a report is made public, some details may be redacted.

Retrieving and Using Police Reports

Police reports are most useful as evidence in settlement negotiations for insurance claims and litigation. In fact, insurance companies typically require a police report as evidence for claims. When they are available, police reports are accessible through the jurisdictions where the reports were filed. At The Records Company, our knowledge of records retrieval laws and procedures in all fifty states saves our clients the hassle of tracking down jurisdictions and case numbers and ensures retrieval and copying fees stay low. Contact us to find out more about how we can get police reports for your needs.