When police officers are called to the scene of a car accident in South Carolina, they will typically gather evidence at the scene and use it to compile an official collision report that gets filed with the state. The report and its contents can be valuable to an injury victim looking to secure their recovery.
To obtain a copy of your collision report, you can either go through the Department of Motor Vehicles or the local police station. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to fill out a form and pay a small fee. You can choose to do this in person or via mail. Once you get your copy, you may be able to make changes if you find errors, but only if you act quickly.
If you cannot find the answers to your questions in this article, we strongly urge that you reach out to Burriss & Ridgeway. With something as important as recovering damages for your car accident injuries, you deserve to know the facts, and our Columbia car accident lawyers can help you get them. To schedule today, call us at (803) 451-4000.
How Car Accidents Are Reported in Columbia, South Carolina
In most instances, the police officer who is called to the scene will be responsible for filing the car accident report. You should always call 911 at the scene of the accident and alert the dispatcher of the situation so that they can send an officer to investigate. South Carolina officers who determine that an accident may have caused injury, death, or at least $1,000 in property damage are required by law to file a report. The written report must be submitted to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) within 24 hours of the accident.
If law enforcement is not called to the scene or otherwise does not file a report, you have the ability to personally file your own accident report. If you were involved in the accident and would like to file a report, you must do so within 15 days of the accident. If you were not involved in the accident directly but owned one of the vehicles involved, you have five days from the time that you learn about the accident to file an accident report. Talk to a South Carolina car accident attorney about how you can better your situation by filing your own accident report.
How to Obtain Your Car Accident Police Report in Columbia, South Carolina
The police officer may give you a short report form at the scene of the accident. However, that isn’t the one you really want. You will want to obtain the formal collision report that is compiled and submitted later, which will contain much more detail about the accident and parties involved.
If your collision report was filed by an officer with the City of Columbia Police Department, you have a few options for obtaining a copy of the report shortly after it is filed. You may decide to go through the state-wide SCDMV database by completing a formal Request for Collision Report form, also known as SCDMV Form FR-50. You should mail two copies of your completed Form FR-50 with a check or money order for the appropriate fee (typically $6) to the SCDMV. The address for your mail should be as follows:
PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016
You can also obtain a copy of your collision report directly through the Columbia Police Department. The CPD’s Records Unit accepts cash, check, or card, but will not e-mail or fax your report to you. You must either go to the station in person or provide them with a verifiable mailing address. If you are not a victim in the collision report that you are requesting, you must fill out a separate request through the Freedom of Information Act.
It may take some time for your collision report to be added to your official driving record. If you make your request for the report before the report has been made official, it will come with a stamp that reads “unofficial.” For the official report, you may need to pay an additional fee.
Can I Make Changes to a Police Report for a Car Accident in Columbia, South Carolina?
Once you obtain a copy of your collision police report, you and your Lexington car accident attorney should examine it thoroughly for inconsistencies or factual mistakes. If you find that there are errors in the report, you are able to request changes. You must go through the CPD’s Telephone Response Unit, which might need to contact the original reporting officer in certain situations. The earlier you request that the changes be made, the more likely you are to be successful, so be sure to raise any issues you find early on in a conversation with your Columbia personal injury lawyer.
Why Is a Police Report Important for a Car Accident in Columbia?
Your official collision report will be the basis for your Columbia car accident attorney’s investigation into the accident. Police reports provide vital, objective details on how the accident occurred. They also identify all of the parties involved, including contact information of eyewitnesses to the accident. Eyewitnesses can prove to be critical for car accident injury lawsuits that end up in court. You will also want a police report available when dealing with insurance agents that represent the other driver.
You can gather all of this information on your own, but if you find yourself in need of medical attention immediately after an accident, critical information can get lost in the shuffle. Do not deprive yourself of the care that you need when you could have a police officer take care of the details for you.
Ask Our Columbia Car Accident Lawyers About Getting Your Police Report Today
You deserve the straight answers about your collision report and potential recovery. Get it today by calling Burriss & Ridgeway. Schedule an appointment with one of our South Carolina personal injury lawyers by calling (803) 451-4000.