How to Read Your Texas Car Accident Report
An experienced attorney can investigate your case
When car wrecks happen in Texas, the investigating officer fills out a report, known as the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3). As your injury claim for the accident proceeds, the report becomes a key piece of evidence. If the investigating officer ends up testifying in a deposition or at trial – often years later – the report will be the basis of that testimony. In addition, the insurance company will use the information in the accident report as part of their determination of fault.
You need to read your report and understand how it could affect your case. The Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood has created this guide to help you obtain and read your Texas car accident report. We would be glad to review your report and other important documents in your free consultation.
Obtaining your Texas car accident report
In Texas, you can get a copy of your crash report through the TxDOT Crash Report Online Purchase System. You need to provide one of the following pieces of information to search for your report:
- The legal name of a person (or business, if it was a commercial vehicle) involved in the crash.
- The driver’s license number or ID card number of a person involved in the crash. On a Texas license or ID card, look for this 8-digit number on the front of the car, near the top.
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a vehicle involved in the crash. This is a 17-digit number that can usually be found on the front of the dashboard on the driver’s side: look through the windshield from in front of the car to find it. You may also find it on the driver’s side door pillar: open the driver’s door, then check near where the door latches to the car. If your crash involved a motorcycle, the VIN is typically printed on the motorcycle’s steering neck below the handlebars, or occasionally on or near the motor. You can also find the VIN on the title, registration, or insurance policy documents.
- The TxDOT Crash ID, an 8-digit number that the Department of Transportation assigns to the wreck. You may be able to get this number from the investigating law enforcement agency, such as the Texas Highway Patrol.
If you hire our firm to handle your case, we will gladly handle the request for the accident report on your behalf, along with any other documents we need to acquire to build your case.
How to Read the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3)
The first page is a general overview of the accident, including where it happened and what vehicles were involved. This page documents initial injuries, as well as whether a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also notes whether safety devices (such as seatbelts) were used, which can affect liability for injuries sustained. Note that this is only information known to the investigating officer; it is not the final say.
The information on page two is critical to establish fault for the accident. Pay close attention to the codes describing contributing factors. Read through the narrative carefully, as well, since it often contains information not noted elsewhere in the report.
Again, the information on this page is not the final word. It only documents injuries and property damage that were known at the time the report was written.
Page Three and Four
These pages are a guide to interpreting the codes used elsewhere in the report. In particular, the codes describing contributing factors and conditions are critical, as well as injury severity, restraint use, drug tests, and vehicle damage.
Click here for a printable version.