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Obtaining a Traffic Collision Report from LAPD

Posted on October 21, 2022 in Car Accidents

If you had the unfortunate experience of being involved in a traffic accident within the City of Los Angeles, the most important piece of evidence to strengthen a personal injury claim, or to defend a claim against you, if the traffic collision report (TCR) prepared and filed by the LAPD. In addition to the facts surrounding the accident, like the information on the drivers, passengers, vehicles and witnesses, the critical portion of the TCR is the officer’s conclusion from the interpretation of the physical evidence.

The purpose of this blog is to set out the instructions for obtaining a TCR and the importance of doing so early in the investigation of the accident.

How Do I Obtain the Traffic Collision Report (TCR)?

A TCR can be requested and received online if the accident did not involve a minor, an arrest or a fatality, and the TCR was filed subsequent to January 31, 2016.

Below are the appropriate links to request a TCR online, and the instructions to request the TCR via mail.

To obtain a TCR online, click here and input the information as prompted.

To obtain a TCR through the U.S Mail, send a completed TCR request PDF form and a $16 check or money order made payable to LAPD to:

Los Angeles Police Department
Records and Identification Division
P.O. Box 30158
Los Angeles, CA 90030

Remember, accidents involving a minor, an arrest or a fatality or TCRs that have been issued prior to January 31, 2016, need to be requested and received by mail only. There is not an online option for these reports.

Who Can Request a Report?

TCRs are not public record, and only those deemed an interested party can submit a request and receive the report. A party of interest is defined as:

  1. the drivers involved in the accident;
  2. any person from the accident;
  3. any person injured or suffered property damage in the accident;
  4. any person, other than the drivers, who may be found liable for the accident; or
  5. an attorney, parent, guardian or authorized representative of any of the above.

The California Vehicle Code 20012 defines the parties of interest that can be made privy to a TCR.

How Long Before I Receive the TCR?

All TCRs need to be reviewed and approved for release prior to the processing of any requests. The recommended time for this review and approval period is 45 days from the date of the accident.

According to the LAPD’s website, there is a minimum of 60 days (or 2 months) from the date of a request to process and release a TCR.

What is the Specific Information Contained in a TCR?

The TCR is the official summary of an accident scene prepared by the responding LAPD officer. In addition to the contact information of the drivers, passengers and witnesses, and the pertinent vehicle information, the TCR will also compile the:

  1. summary of the damage involved;
  2. summary of the weather and road conditions;
  3. cite any traffic violation(s);
  4. officer’s opinion of events; and
  5. diagram of the placement of the vehicles.

When Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

It is in the best interest of anyone involved in a car accident with injuries and/or vehicle damage, regardless of fault, to begin the process of retaining a personal injury attorney as soon as practicable after the accident. Ideally, this effort should begin and the attorney retained prior to the TCR being received.

The 2-month period between requesting and receiving the TCR will enable the attorney to fully explain the process and the preliminary plan of action. By the time the TCR is received, the attorney will be able to better evaluate the contents of the TCR against the explanation provided by the client.

The TCR will be made a part of the insurance claim. Because the attorney was afforded this additional time, the representation of the client’s defense, or the value of the damage claim, will be on a solid foundation before the investigation by the insurance company.

Time is of the essence when a case is evaluated and a strategy is formed.

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