Being involved in a car accident is a physically, financially, and emotionally traumatizing event. Depending on the severity of your crash, you may be left with thousands of dollars in auto repairs and a seemingly unending stream of medical bills. If you are unable to work after your car accident, making a full recovery might seem out of reach.
Filing a personal injury claim is one of the most effective ways to recover compensation for your auto accident damages. You’ll need sufficient evidence of liability when moving forward with a claim, including a copy of your car accident report. If you’re unsure how to get a copy of an accident report in West Virginia, the car accident attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC have compiled the below information, which you may find helpful.
When Are Accident Reports Required?
Every state sets its own requirements for reporting car accidents to authorities. In West Virginia, you are required to immediately report a car accident to the police if the following two conditions are met:
- Someone was injured or killed
- There was at least $1,000 in property damage
The officer who responds to the scene of the accident is given 24 hours to interview everyone involved in the accident and another ten days to file the car accident report. DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC advises waiting until ten days have passed before requesting a copy of the police report for your accident, otherwise, you may have to pay the request fee more than once.
Minor accidents involving less than $1,000 in property damage do not require the immediate involvement of the police. However, if you choose not to call the police to the accident scene, you must still make a driver’s accident report filing with the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (WV DMV) if:
- Someone was injured or killed
- There was at least $500 in property damage
When there are no serious injuries and minimal property damage, many drivers prefer to work things out with their insurance companies without the involvement of the police. If you choose not to file a police report and later learn you suffered serious injuries or extensive property damage, the insurance company may try to use the lack of a police report to deny your claim.
If you are unsure of the extent of the property damage, err on the side of caution and call the police or file a report anyway.
How To Get a Copy of Your Accident Report in West Virginia
You have the legal right to request a copy of the accident report for a collision you were involved in. There is no central database for car accident reports in West Virginia, though, so you’ll have to contact the police department that responded to your accident.
Every police department will likely do things a little differently. Once you determine which department responded to your crash, contact their records office and ask how to move forward with a request. Most jurisdictions have an area on their website that allows you to make a request and pay the $20 fee online. You may also be permitted to make a request in person or through the mail, depending on your needs.
You will need the following information when requesting a copy of your car accident report:
- The date and location of the crash
- The names of the involved drivers
- Your contact information
If you do not have access to any of the above information, speak directly with the police department that responded to your accident. Clearly explain your situation and, if necessary, get your attorney involved in the process.
How Will the Accident Report Help Your Personal Injury Case?
When you file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurer, you will likely be met with opposition to your claim at every turn. It will be up to you and your attorney to prove that the other driver caused your accident, or was at least mostly at fault.
West Virginia allows car accident victims to recover compensation for their damages so long as they are 50% or less responsible for the collision. Anyone who is deemed to be at least 51% at fault is ineligible for compensation. If the insurer can shift your liability by even just a few percentage points, you may be cut off from the full and fair compensation you are owed.
Information contained within the car accident report will be key to proving liability. If you are unsure how to interpret this information or are worried about the insurance company twisting its contents, the attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can advise you of all your options when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
Additional evidence that can be helpful when arguing who was at fault for a car accident includes:
- Pictures from the accident scene
- Dashcam footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Medical bills and records
- Evidence of missed days at work
If necessary, your attorney should also rely on the guidance of other experts to paint the fullest possible picture of what occurred. At our law firm, we regularly partner with medical experts and accident reconstruction specialists who can help support our clients’ claims.
We Are Strong Advocates for Injury Victims
Big insurance companies are never on your side. Even when it is their job to pay out compensation for a car accident claim, their real priority is always the bottom line. Paying your claim is in direct opposition to their goal to grow profits.
If you were injured in a car accident, your time to recover compensation is already running out. West Virginia state law allows only two years from the date of an accident to file a car accident claim, with very few exceptions. The sooner you contact us to schedule your free consultation, the sooner we can start building the strongest possible case.