How to Get South Carolina Car Accident Reports

July 5, 2024 / RP Legal

The police report is a very influential document in practically every South Carolina car accident legal case. While there are limits to its utility, you should always have the report in-hand and be prepared to use it if necessary. The insurance companies will certainly closely review the South Carolina car accident reports before they reach any decision about liability for your accident. Before you begin the legal process, you should contact an experienced car accident lawyer to represent you. Reach out to the Columbia car accident attorneys at Rikard & Protopapas to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.

Practically Every Car Accident Must Be Reported

In South Carolina, there is a legal obligation to report virtually every car accident to law enforcement. The legal requirement is that you must report accidents that cause the following:

  • More than $1,000 in property damage, or;
  • Physical injuries, or;
  • Death

An accident can rack up $1,000 in damage to a car sooner than you might think. You should always err on the side of caution when reporting an accident to the authorities. If you have been involved in an accident, it is in your best interest to have a police officer show up to the accident scene.

An officer will produce the car accident report and document the circumstances of the crash.

Even though the officer cannot necessarily reach a binding conclusion about who was to blame for the accident, the police accident report could be helpful when you are filing an insurance claim. In addition, the accident report could provide valuable leads that your lawyer would pursue when performing a full investigation of the accident.

What Information Is Contained in a Police Accident Report?

The car accident report contains the following information:

  • The date, time and location of the accident
  • Information about the drivers involved, including their contact information and driver’s license number
  • Information about the vehicles involved in the accident
  • Any observations that the officer noted when they arrived at the scene of the accident
  • Whether the officer believes that either driver contributed to the fault of the accident

As you can see, the police report would provide a helpful starting point for your lawyer when they are investigating the accident and compiling evidence that could help prove your claim.

How to Obtain a Copy of the Accident Report

The car accident report would be ready in the days following the crash. First, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles must review and process the report. You should obtain a copy of the report as soon as it is available, so you can review it and potentially challenge anything that is wrong.

To obtain the report, you would need to complete the Form FR-50 and submit it to the DMV in the following ways:

  • Online
  • Through the mail
  • In person at a DMV office

There are two DMV offices in the Columbia area, and they are located at 1630 Shop Rd., and 228 Oneil Ct.

You should not let too much time pass before you request a police report because there is a limited timeframe to push for any changes. In addition, your attorney would need to begin work on investigating the accident as soon as possible.

There Are Some Limitations to the Police Report

Although you need a car accident report, it is also important to know its limitations. The report is written by a police officer who arrived at the scene after the accident. Remember that they did not see the crash itself.

Something cannot violate the hearsay rule to be admissible as evidence at trial. The police accident report would be considered hearsay because the officer relates what others saw rather than reporting what they witnessed themselves. In addition, a police officer is not allowed to testify about the cause of an accident in South Carolina.

Insurance companies will use the police report when determining liability for the crash because their process is more informal, and they are not subject to rules of evidence. What a police officer has written carries some weight in a liability determination. For example, if the officer relates that certain witnesses told them what happened in the crash, or if they issued a citation to a driver, the insurance companies may listen to that.

You Can Respectfully Challenge Incorrect Information on the Police Report

Given the importance of the accident report, it is vital that it is completely accurate. There are times when an officer may show up to the scene of the accident, and they may not necessarily get the accident report right. You need to be vigilant about what is written on the report and challenge anything that appears to be incorrect. The insurance company will continue to use the information on the accident report until it is corrected, or you can prove that it is wrong.

There is a process that you can use to challenge information on the police accident report. You can contact the officer directly and share your concerns with them. It is important to be businesslike and professional with the officer and not use an accusatory tone. You should present the officer with your reasons for why the report is mistaken in any evidence that backs up your contentions.

The officer may amend the police report. If they do not, you would need evidence of your own side of the story to present when you file a claim, especially given that there is a police report that may be inconsistent with what you are saying.

Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Today

You should not try to handle too many of the details on your own after a car accident. Contact the experienced attorneys at Rikard & Protopapas. To learn more about how we can help you during your difficult time, you can schedule a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys by calling us today at 803-978-6111 or by sending us a message through our website.

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