Vaziri Law Group Blog


How to Get a Traffic Collision Report in California

Posted by Siamak Vaziri | May 03, 2024 | 0 Comments

You're cruising through California, enjoying the beautiful weather, when out of nowhere – bam! You're in a car accident. Once you've caught your breath, you know you'll need to get a hold of the traffic collision report. But how?

Traffic collision report document

Don't worry, we've got your back. As someone who's represented countless individuals who need their TCRs, we know exactly what you need to do to get that report. It's not as complicated as you might think, but there are a few key steps you can't afford to skip.

Table of Contents:

Obtaining a Traffic Collision Report in California

If you've been in a car accident in California, getting a copy of the traffic collision report is crucial. This report, also known as a police report or crash report, contains vital information about the incident that can be used for insurance claims and legal proceedings.

But how exactly do you go about obtaining a traffic collision report in California? Let's break it down.

Understanding the Process

The process of obtaining a traffic collision report in California involves a few key steps. First, you'll need to gather necessary information about the accident, such as the date, location, and parties involved. This information will be essential when submitting your request for the report.

The next step is to find out which law enforcement agency arrived at the accident scene and filed the report. Depending on the location, it might have been the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or a nearby police department.

Gathering Necessary Information

To ensure a smooth process when requesting your traffic collision report, it's important to have all the necessary information on hand. This includes:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names of parties involved
  • Vehicle information (make, model, license plate)
  • Responding law enforcement agency
  • Report or incident number, if available

Submitting a Request

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can submit your request for the traffic collision report. In California, there are typically three ways to request a report:

  1. Online through the law enforcement agency's website
  2. In person at the agency's office
  3. By mail using a request form

Many agencies, like the Los Angeles Police Department, offer online request options for convenience. However, some may require in-person or mail requests, so be sure to check with the specific agency for their procedures.

Eligibility and Requirements for Requesting a Report

Now that you know the process for requesting a traffic collision report in California, it's important to understand who is eligible to request one and what requirements must be met.

Who Can Request a Report

In California, certain parties are entitled to receive a copy of a traffic collision report. These include:

  • Drivers involved in the accident
  • Passengers involved in the accident
  • Legal representatives of the involved parties
  • Insurance companies of the involved parties
  • Any person suffering bodily injury or property damage as a result of the accident

If you fall into one of these categories, you have the right to request and obtain a copy of the report.

Information Needed to Request a Report

When requesting a traffic collision report, you will typically need to provide certain information to the law enforcement agency. This may include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Your relationship to the accident (driver, passenger, legal representative, etc.)
  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names of involved parties
  • Report or incident number, if known

Having this information readily available will help expedite the request process.

Time Limitations for Requesting a Report

Timing matters when it comes to requesting a traffic collision report in California. Although you won't find a firm cutoff date, your best bet is to get that request in quickly after the crash.

Most agencies make reports available within a few weeks of the incident. However, the more time that passes, the more difficult it may become to locate and obtain the report.

If you have any questions about the time limitations or availability of a report, don't hesitate to contact the law enforcement agency directly for guidance.

Methods for Requesting a Traffic Collision Report

In California, there are a few different ways you can request a copy of your traffic collision report. The method you choose may depend on the law enforcement agency that responded to your accident and your personal preferences.

Online Request

Many law enforcement agencies in California, including the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), offer online options for requesting traffic collision reports.

To make an online request, simply visit the agency's website and look for a section on obtaining reports or records. You will likely need to provide basic information about the accident and pay any associated fees before you can download a copy of the report.

In-Person Request

If you prefer to request your traffic collision report in person, you can visit the office of the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident. For accidents handled by the CHP, you can go to any of their offices throughout the state, regardless of where the accident occurred.

When making an in-person request, be sure to bring a valid form of identification and any relevant information about the accident. You may need to fill out a request form and pay any required fees before receiving your copy of the report.

Mail Request

Another option for requesting a traffic collision report is by mail. To do so, you will need to download and complete a request form from the law enforcement agency's website. For the CHP, this is the CHP 190 form.

Once you have completed the form, mail it to the agency's office along with a check or money order for the applicable fees and a copy of your government-issued ID. The agency will then process your request and mail you a copy of the report.

Whether you opt for online forms, email, or snail mail, always double-check the agency's guidelines. Provide them with all the info they need, and your request will be handled efficiently.

Fees and Processing Time for Obtaining a Report

When you request a traffic collision report in the Golden State, be prepared to potentially shell out some cash and wait a little while for the report to be processed.

Cost of Obtaining a Report

The cost of obtaining a traffic collision report varies by law enforcement agency in California. However, most agencies charge a fee to cover the costs of processing and providing the report.

For example, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) charges a fee of $10 for a regular request and $25 for a priority request. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) charges a fee of $18 for a copy of a traffic collision report.

Be sure to check with the specific agency for their current fees and payment methods.

Expected Processing Time

The processing time for obtaining a traffic collision report can also vary depending on the agency and the complexity of the request. In general, most agencies aim to process requests within a few weeks of receipt.

However, factors such as the volume of requests received and the availability of staff can impact processing times. Some agencies may offer expedited or priority processing for an additional fee.

If you have an urgent need for the report, such as for a court case or insurance claim, be sure to communicate this to the agency and inquire about expedited options.

Expedited Requests

In some cases, you may need a copy of your traffic collision report more quickly than the standard processing time allows. Many law enforcement agencies offer expedited or priority request options for an additional fee.

For example, the CHP offers a priority request option for $25, which guarantees processing within 2 business days. The LAPD also offers an expedited service for an additional $18 fee.

If you need your report urgently, contact the agency directly to inquire about their expedited options and associated fees.

Picture this: you've been in a traffic collision, and now you're wondering what to do next. One word: documentation. Getting your hands on that collision report should be at the top of your list. Yes, it might involve a bit of legwork and a nominal fee, but it's a critical step in safeguarding your interests. Don't let the minor inconvenience deter you – this report is your ticket to a smoother road ahead.

Using a Traffic Collision Report for Legal Purposes

A traffic collision report is not just a formality - it can be a crucial piece of evidence in legal proceedings related to the accident. Whether you're filing an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, the information contained in the report can greatly impact your case.

Importance of a Traffic Collision Report in Legal Cases

The traffic collision report serves as an official record of the accident, documenting important details such as:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Parties involved and their contact information
  • Description of the accident and any injuries or property damage
  • Statements from involved parties and witnesses
  • Citations or violations issued
  • Diagrams or photographs of the scene

A thorough report is worth its weight in gold in legal proceedings. Why? It helps pinpoint who's responsible, who's on the hook, and the magnitude of harm caused. Involved parties and witnesses can lean on the report to sharpen hazy memories, while attorneys use it as a springboard for digging deeper into the case.

Consulting with an Attorney

If you're thinking about using a traffic collision report in court, it's a smart move to talk to a seasoned car accident attorney first. They'll break down your rights, tell you how strong your case is, and walk you through the legal process step by step.

When consulting with an attorney, be sure to provide them with a copy of the traffic collision report, as well as any other relevant documents such as medical records, insurance policies, and correspondence with the other parties involved.

Your attorney can use the information in the report to build a strong case on your behalf and negotiate with insurance companies or opposing counsel to seek a fair settlement or judgment.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit

Were you recently involved in a traffic accident in California? It's crucial to remember that the clock starts ticking right away on your chance to file a lawsuit. The specific time frame, known as the statute of limitations, hinges on the nature of your case.

For personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the accident. For property damage cases, the statute of limitations is three years.

However, there are some exceptions and nuances to these time limits, so it's crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure your rights are protected.

Don't wait until the last minute to obtain your traffic collision report and explore your legal options. The sooner you act, the better positioned you'll be to build a strong case and seek the compensation you deserve.

Traffic Collision Reports and Insurance Claims

In addition to legal proceedings, traffic collision reports play a vital role in the insurance claims process after an accident. Insurance companies rely heavily on these reports to determine fault, assess damages, and make decisions about coverage and compensation.

Providing a Traffic Collision Report to Insurance Companies

So, you've just been in a fender bender, and now you need to file an insurance claim. Well, get ready to dig up that traffic collision report. It's like your golden ticket – an official play-by-play of what went down, from an outside perspective. Hand it over to the insurance folks, and it could be the key to getting your claim approved.

Be sure to obtain a copy of the report as soon as possible after the accident and provide it to your insurance company promptly. Delaying or failing to provide the report could potentially harm your claim.

In some cases, the insurance company may obtain the report directly from the law enforcement agency. However, it's still a good idea to have your own copy for your records and to review for accuracy.

Impact on Insurance Claims

When you file an insurance claim after a traffic collision, the report from the accident scene becomes a key factor in the outcome. Your insurer will scrutinize the details to assess who was responsible and to what extent, which can significantly impact your coverage and the compensation you receive.

If the report indicates that you were at fault for the accident, it may be more difficult to obtain compensation from the other party's insurance company. On the other hand, if the report shows that the other party was at fault, it can strengthen your claim for damages.

The accident report isn't just a formality - it's a goldmine of information about the extent of the damage and injuries you suffered. With this evidence in hand, you can make a strong case for recouping your medical bills, repair costs, and other expenses from the accident.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

When pursuing an insurance claim after a traffic accident, you will likely deal with an insurance claims adjuster. The adjuster's job is to investigate the claim, assess damages, and negotiate a settlement on behalf of the insurance company.

When dealing with insurance adjusters, proceed with caution. Remember, their loyalty lies with the insurance company, and they're tasked with settling your claim for the lowest amount possible. If an adjuster asks you to provide a recorded statement or sign any paperwork, consider the potential ramifications – it might jeopardize your claim.

Before providing any statements or signing any documents, it's advisable to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the claims process.

Remember, the traffic collision report is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to insurance claims. It's important to gather all relevant documentation, including medical records, repair estimates, and witness statements, to build a strong case for compensation.

Key Takeaway: 

Getting a traffic collision report in California is key after an accident. First, gather details like the date and location of the crash. Find out which law enforcement agency handled it, then request your report online, in person, or by mail. Be ready with information about the accident and pay any necessary fees to get this essential document for insurance or legal use.


So there you have it - the inside scoop on how to get your traffic collision report in California. It might seem like a hassle, but trust me, it's worth the effort.

Remember, whether you're dealing with insurance claims or legal issues, that report is your golden ticket. And now that you know how to get your hands on it, you're one step closer to putting this whole ordeal behind you.

About the Author

Siamak Vaziri

Attorney Siamak Vaziri’s mission is to help make his clients whole by obtaining maximum physical, emotional, and financial recovery. Mr. Vaziri’s clients' needs come first, evidenced by his 98% success rate, more than $1 Billion in client settlements and verdicts, as well as 100+ 5-star reviews. Mr. Vaziri invests every resource to nurture his client and partner relationships and does so with integrity and a relentless work ethic.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

[LAW FIRM NAME] Is Here for You

At [LAW FIRM NAME], [I/WE] focus on [PRACTICE AREA(S)] and [I/WE] [AM/ARE] here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

We Focus On Your Case So You Can Focus On Healing

If you were injured as the result of someone else's negligence, our legal team is standing by to help. We've helped victims recover over $1 Billion with a 98% success rate. We can help guide you through the entire claim process. Call us at 310-777-7540 for a free, confidential consultation.