You were in a car accident in the City of Los Angeles and the insurance company is now requesting a copy of the collision report. How do you get one? Further, what does it show?
You can get a traffic collision report from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) by either requesting one online or through the United States Mail.
To make a request online in English, please click here.
To make a request online in Spanish – Español, please click here.
For requests via the U.S. Mail, you will need to:
- download and complete a Traffic Collision Report Request, and
- return it with a $16.00 check or money order made payable to the LAPD (the Department does not receive cash).
You will send your completed report request and payment to:
Los Angeles Police Department
Records and Identification Division
Document Processing Unit
P.O. Box 30158
Los Angeles, CA 90030
For questions, please contact the following phone number: 1-800-ASK-LAPD (1-877-275-5273). You can also visit LAPD online at lapdonline.org.
Note that a traffic collision report is basically a document that summarizes all of the details regarding a car accident. The document is usually written by the police officer that responds to the incident.
1. Who can request a California traffic accident report?
Per California Vehicle Code 20012, the following people can request an LAPD report:
- a driver involved in the accident,
- a guardian of a driver involved in the accident,
- the parent of a minor driver,
- the authorized representative of a driver,
- any person injured in the accident,
- any person who suffered property damage because of the accident,
- any person that may be found liable for the accident, and
- an attorney for any of the people named above.1
2. How long does it take to get a police report?
You have to wait 45 days from the date of the collision before you can make a request for a traffic collision report. This is so that LAPD can review and approve the report for release.2
Per the LAPD’s website, once you make a request, there is currently a minimum of two months for LAPD to process the report request.3
If you would like to receive an update on when your request might get processed, you can try calling (213) 486-8100.
3. Are there certain accident reports that you cannot get online?
While you can obtain most collision reports online, there are certain types of reports that you can only receive via a request through the U.S. Mail. These reports include:
- traffic collision reports that involve an arrest, fatality, or juvenile, and
- traffic collision reports issued prior to February 1, 2016.
4. What information is in an accident report?
A police officer usually responds to the scene of a car accident shortly after the accident takes place. An accident report is that officer’s summary of his/her investigation of the accident scene.
The report usually includes the following information:
- the date and time of the accident,
- the accident’s location,
- the identity of the involved parties,
- identifying information for everyone involved in the accident (this usually includes names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license information, and possibly license plate numbers),
- the names and contact information for any witnesses,
- a summary of any damage involved in the accident,
- a summary of the conditions that existed at the time of the accident (for example, traffic, weather, and roadway conditions),
- whether or not the accident involved a traffic violation,
- the officer’s opinion of what took place, and
- a diagram of the accident (this might not always be provided).
5. Can a car accident lawyer help?
Yes. If you were involved in a traffic collision, you should consult with an accident attorney or personal injury lawyer for help.
An attorney or law firm often assists by:
- getting a copy of the report on your behalf,
- gathering your insurance information and submitting the report to the applicable insurance company,
- filing an injury claim with the applicable insurer,
- negotiating that claim on your behalf,
- gathering evidence of who caused the accident, and
- if necessary, filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
In our experience as auto accident attorneys, injured drivers recover larger payouts from insurance companies when they are represented by a California auto accident lawyer.
- California Vehicle Code 20012 VC.
- See lapdonline.org, “Obtain a Traffic Collision Report.”
- See lapdonline.org, “How Can I Make/Obtain a Traffic Collision Report?”