Motor vehicle accidents are costly. Repair costs, medical bills, and lost time from work all add up quickly. In Huntington, West Virginia, however, you can expect an added expense: obtaining the police report. Local residents are angered by a quadrupling of the police report fee from $5 to $20. Think you’ll save money by getting it online? That will cost you another $5.
While Huntington’s fees look reasonable compared to some other West Virginia law enforcement agencies, looks are deceiving. All county sheriffs, for example, are required by state law to contribute $10 of every sale of a police report to the sheriff’s retirement fund. There is no such requirement for Huntington, which gets to pocket the extra $10. For how long is another question. Angry editorials are already appearing on this issue.
Still, obtaining a copy of the police report is one of the most important things you should do after being involved in a motor vehicle accident [link to practice page]. If there is erroneous information on the report, you should contact the issuing officer and ask for a correction. Some will make revisions, and some won’t, but at least you have made a report indicating that you felt the report was in error.
More Tips After an Automobile Accident
Move your vehicle, if possible, to a safe area in order to prevent another accident. You should check with everyone involved to see if medical attention is required, and if so, immediately call 911. If no one is injured, the next step is to notify the local police department, who will advise you if they need to be present at the scene.
If police do report to the scene, you should write down the name of the investigating officer, the officer’s phone number, and the police report number, so you can obtain a copy when it is filed. Regardless of whether the police visit the scene, you should exchange your name, address, and phone number with all persons involved. Jot down the make, model, and year of all vehicles involved. Also obtain license plate numbers, the names of all insurance companies, and insurance policy numbers from each driver. If you have a camera, take pictures of the accident location, vehicle damage, and any individuals involved.
Remain calm and cooperate with the police. Although you should be polite to all involved, no one has the right to question you other than the police. Do not admit fault for the accident until you have had the opportunity to speak with your attorney. Contact your insurance company, but be wary about saying anything that the insurer might use to deny your insurance claim.
If you have been injured in a car accident in West Virginia, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and options after the accident.
Jeff Robinette is an award-winning West Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney with over 30 years of experience handling catastrophic injury cases. Mr. Robinette started his career working for insurance companies, and he now uses that experience to exclusively represent the injured and their families.
Morgantown, WV is the home base for the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, but Mr. Robinette and his skilled team represent clients all over West Virginia.
Mr. Robinette is the author of three authoritative books to help the injured understand their rights and the personal injury claims process — Collision Care: A Guide for West Virginia Car Accidents; Righting the Wrong: A Guide for West Virginia Personal Injury Cases (including workplace injuries), and Beside Still Waters: A Guide for West Virginia Wrongful Death Claims.