When you’ve been in a car accident that causes you an injury or property damage, you may want to view the police report that was filled out at the scene of the crash by the responding police officer. Depending on whether it was a local police department or the Pennsylvania State Police, this can be a rather involved process.
Some police departments actually charge for their police reports, and others claim that they cannot give them out without a court order or subpoena. You may face opposition trying to get the basic official information that was gathered. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re trying to make an insurance claim based on your injuries from the accident.
Police reports are not technically considered a public record, and if anyone was charged in the accident, whether with a traffic ticket or something more serious, then the police department will usually refuse to provide the report in response to Right-To-Know Requests.
After someone has died in a car accident, the process can be particularly difficult. You may have to open an estate to pursue getting information on the accident or to set up a wrongful death claim. In these instances, police departments often refuse to give out the police reports except to an authorized representative of the opened estate.
Accordingly, if someone in the department won’t provide it to you, and if the police refuse to include it in a Right-To-Know request, what else can you do? Sometimes the only option is to retain an attorney to begin working on your personal injury case, or to pursue a small claims lawsuit for property damage to your car. An attorney can file a Writ of Summons or a Complaint to begin a civil action to recover damages and can advise you on the discovery rights this gives you. Most of the time, a simple subpoena can be sent—but only after a lawsuit is filed. Subpoena power does not arise under Pennsylvania law until a suit is filed.
If you’ve had trouble getting hold of a police report or have questions after your car accident or personal injury claim, give us a call today at Cornerstone Law Firm. Our personal injury attorneys can discuss with you how to move forward.