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Understanding South Carolina Car Accident Reports

Car accident reports are important for a number of reasons. In South Carolina, as in most places, they are used for legal and insurance purposes, safety and accident analysis, traffic studies, and much more. Law enforcement and emergency services also rely on these reports to conduct investigations and understand the nature and severity of any injuries sustained. 

It’s the Law to Report a Car Accident

While it is generally not a legal requirement for drivers involved in every single accident to personally report it, there are certain circumstances where reporting is legally required. In the South Carolina Code of Laws, it states that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must immediately give notice to local police or the highway patrol. In addition, hit and run accidents should also always be reported as they are illegal. 

Even if no injuries are sustained, there are benefits to reporting accidents. If there is property damage, it is recommended to report, especially if the damage is significant. Some jurisdictions may have local ordinances that require reporting of property damage accidents. Your auto insurance may also require you to report any accident, regardless of the extent of damage or injuries. They often require the report within a certain time frame and failure to report may affect your coverage. 

What Kind of Information Is in a Car Accident Report?

A car accident report typically contains a variety of information related to the accident, which is gathered by law enforcement officers who respond to the scene. The specific details included in the report may vary from one jurisdiction to another, but the following are common elements found in most car accident reports:

  • Date, Time and Location: The report should specify the date, time, and precise location of the accident, including the street names, intersections or landmarks. Some reports also include a diagram or sketch of the accident scene that helps illustrate the positions of vehicles, traffic signs, and other relevant factors. Information about weather and road conditions may also be included.
  • Identification of Parties Involved: The name, address, contact information, driver’s license number, and insurance details for all drivers involved in the accident will be documented. Details of the vehicles involved, such as make, model, year, license plate numbers, and sometimes vehicle identification numbers (VINs) will also be in the report.
  • Description of Accident: This section provides a narrative description of how the accident occurred. It should include details about the sequence of events leading up to the collision, the point of impact, and any contributing factors such as speeding or running a red light. 
  • Injuries and Medical Treatment: Any injuries sustained are documented along with information about medical treatment provided at the scene or later at a medical facility.
  • Witness Statements: Witness statements from anyone who saw the accident occur may also be included. These often help corroborate the details of the accident.

How to Get a Car Accident Report in South Carolina

In South Carolina, you can obtain a copy of a car accident report through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) or the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident. There are three different ways you can request this information: 

  • Online Request: Visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles website and follow the instructions provided to request a copy of the accident report online. 
  • In-Person Request: After completing the SCDMV Form FR-50, you may take your request into any SCDMV branch office. 
  • Request by Mail: If you would like to request a collision report by mail, you will need to complete the same form listed above and mail it in.

You can visit the SCDMV website for specific instructions and links to the Form FR-50 if you would like to make a request. 

How to Read a Car Accident Report

Reading a car accident report can be complex, but understanding the key sections and details is important especially if you are involved in an accident or need the report for insurance or legal purposes. The incident number will be located in the upper left corner of the South Carolina police report. This is helpful to use when identifying your case with law enforcement, insurance, or an accident attorney.

There are two pages to an accident report with different sections throughout. There will be sections for location, personal information of the people involved in the accident, accident description, the officer’s information, injury information, sequence of events, and more. It is important to discuss your report with an experienced car accident attorney if you believe some of the information is incorrect or you have questions. 

What Is the Next Step After Obtaining My Car Accident Report?

After obtaining a car accident report, the next steps you should consider depend on your specific situation and the reason for obtaining the report. Some common next steps include contacting your insurance company, seeking medical attention, consulting with an attorney, or settling a claim. If you believe you are entitled to compensation, or if you are offered a settlement through insurance, always contact an experienced accident attorney first. At Philpot Law Firm, our expert car accident attorneys will give you a free consultation to help you understand your legal options based on your specific case. We fight hard to get the compensation you deserve – not just what the first settlement offer is.

Seeking Legal Counsel After a Car Accident

If you have been injured in a car accident and believe you are entitled to compensation or more compensation than what you have been offered, contact Philpot Law Firm before the statute of limitations runs out! Our attorneys are here to guide you through the process and protect your interests. Contact Philpot Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation!