Most states obligate drivers to report car accidents to the authorities. Reporting accidents can help hold at-fault drivers accountable for their actions. It could also improve the accuracy of state crash statistics, lending more information to important safety initiatives. New Mexico is no exception. As a driver, you must report a car accident to the police immediately if it caused bodily injuries, deaths or more than $500 in apparent property damages. A copy of your police report could serve as evidence for your insurance claim or lawsuit later.
Call 911 From the Scene
It is your duty as a driver to stop as close as possible to the scene of a car accident and contact the authorities, if necessary. New Mexico Statutes Section 66-7-206 states that the driver of a serious accident must notify the police by the fastest means of communication available. Stop at the scene of the collision and call 911 from your cellphone, if possible. Request an ambulance if anyone has injuries.
Get the Police Report Number
Give the police your side of the story. Tell them what happened from your perspective without admitting fault for the crash. Describe any injuries and property damages you sustained. If you do not yet notice any symptoms of injuries, refrain from telling the police that you are not hurt. Instead, explain you wish to receive medical care before answering.
The police should gather information such as your name, the name of the other driver, everyone’s contact information, insurance information, eyewitness statements and photographs of the crash. Before the police give you permission to leave the scene, ask for your police report number. Write down the name of the police officer that responded to the crash. Most police officers will have business cards with contact numbers you can take with you. Otherwise, contact the officer by calling the local police station.
Wait 24 Hours
The police officer has 24 hours from the completion of his or her crash investigation to send a written accident report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. In some cases, the officer may ask for an extension to complete his or her investigation. Most officers must submit their reports within a maximum of 10 days. Wait 24 hours before inquiring about your police report. From there, the station should be able to give you a time estimate if the investigation remains ongoing.
Request the Report
Once it is time to contact the officer and request a copy of your police report, dial the number on the officer’s business card. Even if your crash happened years ago, the station should still have your report on record. New Mexico laws require police officers to keep fatal accident reports for 20 years and nonfatal reports for 5 years. You must give an oral or written request for the police station to release your accident report. Most departments prefer written requests.
You may file a written request either via mail to the correct New Mexico State Police office or online through the Department of Public Safety’s website. The Albuquerque Police Department has its own online accident request portal if this is the office that responded to your crash. Fill out some information about your crash, find the correct report and pay the $7.50 fee to access it online. You can also request your accident report in person at the correct police station.
Call the County Clerk
If the police station or officer cannot help you obtain a copy of your accident report, visit your county clerk’s office. Speak to a clerk about your crash report. The clerk can tell you which police department has your report on file. From there, you can contact the correct station to request a copy. If you have trouble getting a copy of your police report, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance. An experienced car accident lawyer in Albuquerque can help you file necessary paperwork and maximize your verdict amount.