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How Do I Access Car Accident Records?

People consulting with an attorney after a car accident.
A car that's been in an accident.
A car.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The manner in which you can access car accident records typically depends on the jurisdiction in which you live or hope to obtain records. In many places, you can obtain car accident records by contacting a local department of motor vehicles or similar agency. Some jurisdictions, however, may require you to obtain a court order if you wish to retrieve a record for an accident in which you were not involved. Additionally, you may obtain a vehicle history report to learn whether or not a car you would like to buy has ever been involved in an accident.

One way to access car accident records is through a local department of motor vehicles or a similar agency. If you are trying to access accident reports for accidents in which you were driving or otherwise involved, you may have to provide basic information such as your name, address, phone number, and other identifying details in order to obtain an accident report. You may also have to provide details about your vehicle, and in some cases, your driver’s license number. Additionally, you will likely have to pay a fee.

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If you want to retrieve an accident report but you were not the driver of the car or involved in the accident, the steps you'll have to take may depend on where the accident occurred. In some places, you may be able to obtain an accident report by filling in a form at a local department of motor vehicles or similar agency and paying a fee. In other jurisdictions, however, another person’s accident report may be considered confidential. In such a case, you may have to request a copy of the party’s accident report through your jurisdiction’s court system. For example, if the accident report is needed for a lawsuit, you may file a motion to retrieve it as part of your case.

In some places, you may not have to contact a motor vehicle agency to access car accident records. Instead, you may visit your local police department in order to obtain the records you need. Often, you will need to contact the police department's records and identification division to access the records.

If you do not need a car accident record for a particular person but instead need to know if a car you want to purchase has been involved in accident, the procedure you’ll have to follow may be different. In such a case, you will typically need to obtain a vehicle history report. There are many companies that sell vehicle history reports that include accident information as well as other information that may help you make your decision. You can typically obtain these reports by providing the vehicle identification number of the car you are considering and paying a fee.

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