The Massachusetts Public Records Law gives every person access to either a standard or certified accident report. Any member of the public can search the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) database. The one caveat is that the accident report must have been filed by a state or local police agent. Reports are typically available as soon as four weeks after the accident. If a report is not initially found, the RMW will continue to search for a total of 12 weeks from the date of the crash.
How do you request a report after an accident in MA?
Online accident report requests are not being honored by the RMV at the time of this post. Check the RMV’s website for any changes or updates to the registry’s policy. You can visit one of the 63 RMV locations in Massachusetts to request an accident report in person. The fee for each accident report retrieved is $20. You may need to make an appointment for certain services, so check before just showing up at an RMV facility.
When do you have to file an accident report?
Any driver involved in a crash must file a report under one of three circumstances.
- If any person was killed
- If any person was injured
- If there was damage that exceeds $1,000 to any one vehicle or other property
The report must be filed by the driver within five days of the accident. It is to be submitted to the Crash Records department of the RMV. A copy must also be sent or delivered to the police department that covers law enforcement in the crash area.
Do you have to report an accident to insurance in MA?
Yes, you should report an accident in Massachusetts to your insurance company. You have up to three years to file an insurance claim. However, your results might be better if you file sooner before the details get fuzzy.
Keep important insurance documents and phone numbers handy so you can call your insurance provider immediately if an accident occurs. Even if your accident seems minor, reporting it will help you get the proper compensation down the line if any problems arise.
You will probably need to submit your accident report as well as any other supporting evidence and documentation. Take photos after the accident if you are able. Be sure to get the names and badge numbers of any police officers on the scene because this information is not recorded on the crash report. If you have been injured, you should contact a Boston car accident attorney before you file your report so you can receive advice on what steps you should take next.
What information does a car accident report include?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report requires certain basic information for every accident.
Section A: Crash Location
This section lists the town or city name as well as any specifics like what exact intersection the crash occurred at. This section also requests the time and date of the crash.
Section B: Vehicle You Were Driving
The title of this section is a little misleading. Section B is a lengthy section that asks for information about the vehicle like its class, registration number, and where it was damaged.
This section is also where the officer enters the vehicle owner’s personal information (name, address, driver’s license number, etc.).
Section C: You and Your Passenger(s) information
This section asks for the basic personal information of any passengers who were involved in the accident, including yourself.
You also need to provide police with a more detailed account of where the passengers were sitting and what happened to them after the accident, including if they were injured or transported to a medical facility.
Section D: Other Vehicle(s) Involved in the Crash
This section covers who was in the other vehicle and what that driver was doing at the time of the crash.
Section E: Non-Motorist(s) Involved
Where was the non-motorist, and what were they doing at the time of the crash? Were they wearing any type of safety equipment? If the non-motorist was injured, it will be indicated here.
Police can fill out multiple Section E pages repeating the same procedure from Section D.
Section F: Crash Conditions
This section describes what environmental conditions the driver faced at the scene of the crash. Police will check the boxes that best describe the visibility, weather, and road conditions. Were any traffic control signals or signs present?
You also need to note the nature of the roadway where the crash took place. The end of Section F also asks about the manner of the collision. This segues to the next section where you or the police can provide explicit details about the logistics of the incident.
Section G: Crash Diagram
This section allows for a drawing of the crash and indicates if it occurred anywhere other than a public road (i.e., an off-street parking lot, a garage, a mall or shopping center, or another private roadway). This is a section that you should review with your Boston car crash lawyer.
Section H: Witness Information
Section H accommodates the information of two witnesses. If there were more than two witnesses to the crash, additional pages can be added as needed to properly report the incident.
Section I: Property Damage Information
This lists all nonvehicular property damage, adding pages if necessary.
Section J: Description of What Happened
In Section J, you can summarize in your own words what happened before and during the crash event. Again, speak to your car accident attorney before completing this section.
Section K: Signature
You are legally certifying that all of the information is true when you sign and date the report (“Signed under Pains and Penalties of Perjury”).
Anyone who lies about an accident can be convicted of perjury and may face financial penalties and jail time under Massachusetts law.
What is the value of getting the accident report?
The Massachusetts statute of limitations gives you up to three years after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to sue for additional economic and non-economic damages. You will need to prove that the other driver was at least 50 percent at fault for the accident in order to seek compensation in excess of what your PIP coverage has already paid out.
The Massachusetts Driver’s Manual lists 19 ways to prove 50 percent fault. The 19 Standards of Fault are:
- A collision with a lawfully or an unlawfully parked vehicle
- A rear-end collision
- An out-of-lane collision
- Failure to signal
- Failure to proceed with due caution from a traffic control signal or sign
- A collision on the wrong side of the road
- Operating in the wrong direction
- A collision at an uncontrolled intersection
- A collision while backing up
- A collision while making a left turn; or while making a U-turn across the travel path of another vehicle
- Leaving or exiting from a parked position, a parking lot, an alley, or a driveway
- An opened or opening vehicle door(s)
- A single-vehicle collision
- Failure to obey the stated rules and regulations for driving
- An unattended vehicle collision
- A collision while merging onto a highway or rotary
- A noncontact operator causing a collision
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles as required by law
- A collision at a “T” intersection (where the driver entered from a side road)
Your attorney will probably need a copy of the accident report to effectively prove 50 percent fault in one or more of these ways.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is here to help. Our award-winning Boston personal injury lawyers will fight to get you the best results possible if you have suffered a personal injury in a car accident. Call our office or contact us today for your free case evaluation. Proudly serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.