It’s standard procedure to call the police after you get into a car accident. Even if no one’s hurt, and there’s not much damage to your vehicle, you should still file a police report about the accident.
But what happens to that police report at the end of the day? Sometimes, it may seem like it disappears after the day of the accident. But in reality, you can access your accident report at any time, and even use it to support your claim in a personal injury lawsuit.
In this article, New Mexico car accident attorney Clark Harmonson walks you through the step-by-step process, quick and painless, of accessing your police report after the day of the accident.
How to access your police report in New Mexico
The first step to accessing your police report is finding out which agency it was filed with. If you were in a city at the time, the police who responded to the scene were probably from that city’s police department.
But if you were driving on the highway, it’s possible the report was filed by the state police or even some other agency like the Sheriff’s office.
Go to that department’s website to look up how to access their records. Today, most police departments have gone digital, which means your police report might be available online. At the very least, if there isn’t a digital version of your report that you can view, you can probably put in a request through the website to access a paper copy.
For example, the City of Las Cruces Public Safety Department website has a page where you can look up all of the Las Cruces Police Department’s public records and print your accident report directly from their website. The New Mexico State Police Department has a similar option on their website.
If you can’t find a link to look up your report online, you can call the police department and request your report over the phone. And if that doesn’t work, you can show up to the department and request your police report in person.
Most states, including New Mexico, have laws requiring all government agencies to make their public records available to the public, including things like accident reports. If a police department is refusing to give you a copy of your police report, contact an attorney immediately.
What can a police report be used for?
If nothing else, your insurance company will probably want to see a copy of the police report before they award you your settlement. But an accident report can be useful beyond your insurance claim.
Here are a few of the ways you can use your police report to support your claim in a lawsuit:
- Assessment of fault: Police on the scene usually make a preliminary assessment of who was at fault in their reports. While this assessment will likely not be admissible in court, it can be a useful bargaining tool while trying to settle.
- Road conditions and environment: Police reports are good sources of evidence about the scene of the accident. Was the road wet? Did the accident occur around a corner? How bad was the damage to the vehicles?
- Finding witnesses: You will also likely be able to find information about witnesses to the accident– their names and phone numbers, for example. This can be very useful if you need someone who was there to back up your side of the story.
Hire a New Mexico car accident attorney today
Getting access to your accident report is a relatively simple process, but using it to sue for fair compensation is not quite so easy. Having an experienced car accident attorney by your side is the most important step you can take to getting the full compensation you deserve. At Harmonson Law Firm, we can help you make sure your accident doesn’t break the bank. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.