What to Know About Car Accident Reports in San Diego, CA

No one expects to be involved in a traffic accident when they get into their vehicles. Unfortunately, chances are you will be involved in at least one car accident during your lifetime. Therefore, knowing what to do after a car accident in San Diego is important. This knowledge will help you protect your right to fair compensation for damages. 

First, Report the Car Accident to the Police

Calling 911 is the quickest way to report the car crash and request assistance. The emergency operator takes your information and dispatches the appropriate law enforcement officers. 

Some car accidents will require longer investigations. The Accident Investigations Bureau of the City of San Diego investigates car accidents that involve:

  • Serious or fatal injuries
  • Collisions involving felony charges
  • Crashes involving city equipment
  • Accident involving police equipment

The Bureau performs a thorough accident investigation and submits a detailed report to the Traffic Investigation Unit. If your accident involves minor injuries or is a hit-and-run, dispatch will advise you what to do when you call 911.

Obtaining a Copy of Your Car Accident Report 

You can obtain a copy of your car accident report from the San Diego Police Department by requesting a copy of the report online through LexisNexis eCrash. There is a $10 convenience fee charged per report. The service is available 24/7. 

You may also appear in person to request a car accident report. The SDPD Records Division is located at 1401 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101. The office is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. There is a $12 processing fee per report.

Alternatively, you can mail a request to the SDPD Records MS#726 at Post Office Box 121431, San Diego, CA 92112-1431. Make sure that you include a money order or check for $12 payable to the City Treasurer and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. 

If you have questions, you can contact the Records Division by calling 619-531-2846 weekdays from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Why Do I Need a Copy of My Car Accident Report?

When you are involved in a serious car crash, the Accident Investigations Bureau investigates the crash. The officers are Certified Collisions Reconstructionists. They are available to investigate serious traffic accidents 24 hours a day.

When they arrive at the accident scene, they collect evidence, including:

  • Witness statements
  • Roadway dimensions
  • Initial contact location
  • Skid data
  • Calculating the speed of the vehicles
  • And other information

The officers use the evidence they collect at the accident scene to determine the primary cause of the crash and which driver caused the car accident. 

The above information is included in the crash report. The insurance company for the at-fault driver only compensates you for damages if the insured driver was at fault for the cause of the accident. In some cases, the crash report might be sufficient for the insurance company to approve the claim.

However, if the insurance company denies liability, the information on the car accident report can be helpful when you take legal action. If you hire a car accident lawyer to handle your case, your attorney will take care of obtaining a copy of the car accident report from the San Diego Police Department. 

What Happens if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?

The insurance company may deny your injury claim even if the police officers determined that the other driver caused the accident. If that occurs, you have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the collision.

Your personal injury lawyer investigates the crash. The lawyer uses the information on the accident report, but he also interviews witnesses, searches for video evidence, and collects other evidence to prove fault.

If the other driver caused the accident, the insurance company might agree to settle the claim after your lawyer presents it with additional evidence. If the insurance company continues to deny the claim, your lawyer will discuss your legal options for proceeding with a claim. Those options may include filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.

Most Car Accident Cases Settle Out of Court

The majority of car accident cases in San Diego settle without filing a lawsuit. Insurance companies always want to pay as little as possible to settle claims. They may argue with accident victims, deny claims, and use other tactics to stall and wear down the person until they accept a low settlement offer.

Before you agree to a settlement offer, ask a car accident attorney to review your case. The insurance company is not going to tell you if you are receiving a fair settlement. An attorney will give you an honest assessment.