Filing a police report and getting a copy of it can be crucial in jurisdictions such as Columbus, Ohio, and the report can bolster your claim for compensation. Alongside your police report, photos, video footage, and even 911 calls about the accident will be helpful to your Columbus car accident lawsuit in Columbus or elsewhere in Central Ohio.
Here’s everything you need to know about reporting a car accident in Columbus, OH, and obtaining other documentation of your crash.
Do I Have to Report a Car Crash in Columbus?
Yes, Ohio state law requires motorists to report a vehicle crash if it resulted in an injury or at least $400 of property damage. Though this is the official requirement, it is encouraged to report your accident even if you don’t know how much the damage is. Realistically, it is difficult to assess injuries and damage immediately after a crash, so it is best to report it regardless. In addition, the police report can bolster your compensation claim later on.
You may have heard that state police are not required to respond to an accident if it involves no injury or is less than $1,000 in damage. If the police do not come and make a report at the scene, you can — and are encouraged — to file the report yourself.
The City of Columbus makes it easier to file a police accident report as it can be done online or by mail.
How to File an Ohio Traffic Accident Report in Columbus: Step by Step
In Columbus, the accident form you want to file is called “Local Traffic Crash Report,” to be filed with the Columbus Division of Police. You can either get the blank form online, print it, and fill it out by hand, or fill out and submit the form via your desktop computer.
How to File a Columbus Police Accident Report Online
- Download the fillable PDF form of the Local Traffic Crash Report.
- Fill out the form on your computer. You can find a PDF of instructions here.
- Once you have completed the form, click the blue “Submit” button at the bottom.
Where to File Accident Report in Columbus, OH by Mail
- Download and print the PDF form of the Local Traffic Crash Report.
- Fill out the printed form. You can find a PDF of instructions here.
- Once completed, check that you have signed the form (on the second page), then mail the entire report to: Columbus Police-Records, Accident Reports, 120 Marconi Blvd. Columbus, Ohio 43215.
How to Get a Copy of a Traffic Accident Report in Columbus
You’ll want your own copy of your Columbus accident report as it will likely serve as evidence in your compensation claim. You can obtain your copy from the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), as that is where Columbus police submit the reports that are filed with them.
Your copy can be electronic (emailed to you) or a hard copy (physical paper). Here are ways to get your Columbus police accident report copy:
- Online retrieval: Once ODPS has received your report from Columbus police, it will be available to order online at Ohio Department of Public Safety. You can also go to their report retrieval Search page then look for your report using key details such as the document number and crash date.
- Online request: You can ask the Columbus Division of Police to process a report request for you. Go to their Report Request page and fill out the form.
- Request via phone: You may also request the Columbus Division of Police Records Unit via telephone at (614) 645-4747. Request may be done anonymously but they will need your contact details so they can notify you when your document is ready for pickup.
- Request via email: You can likewise request your police report copy by emailing ReportRequests@ColumbusPolice.org. You may request anonymously but remember to provide your contact information.
- Request via fax: You can reach the Columbus police Records Unit via fax at (614) 645-4001. Request may be done anonymously but they will need your contact details so they can notify you when your document is ready for pickup.
- Request by mail: If you would like to request your copy by mail, send your request to Columbus Police Headquarters, 120 Marconi Blvd., Columbus, OH 43215.
Note that getting your copy of the accident report may take a while as ODPS will have to receive the reports from Columbus and then input them into their system. Ohio Department of Public Safety crash reports will typically be available within a day or two, but it could take up to six weeks in some cases.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Traffic Accident Report in Columbus?
Electronic copies of a crash report are free of charge, while hard copies will have a fee of $.05 per page. You may pay by cash, money order, or certified check payable to “City of Columbus Treasurer Police.”
Alternative Way to Access Your Crash Report Copy in Columbus
What if ODPS does not have your accident report? It is possible that your form is still with the police department handling it. You may narrow down your search based on the location of the accident. Here are directories for Columbus police substations and Columbus police patrol subdivisions. Alternatively, you can call their Records Unit at 614-645-4925.
If you are finding it challenging to obtain a copy of your police report, you may get the help of a personal injury attorney. They will be deeply familiar with the police reporting and retrieval system.
How to Get Traffic Accident Pictures and Footage in Columbus
Alongside your police report, photographs and video footage can be crucial pieces of evidence in your injury claim.
One of the best things you can do while still at the scene of the crash is to take pictures of the scene, the damage on your car, your visible injuries, and the surroundings. Include details such as skid marks, damaged infrastructure, road hazards, and obscured or poorly maintained traffic signs.
If you are unable to do this, it may still be possible to obtain photos and videos from cameras installed in the area. For instance, a business establishment along the street or at the intersection may have an outdoor CCTV that captured your accident. You may access the available photos and camera footage in two ways:
Request Crash Pictures and Video from OSHP
Go to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Ordering page. There, you may choose to purchase any of the following:
- Crash photographs online — You will be sent a link within 24-48 hours of your purchase, and this link expires in 14 days. The link takes you to a page containing your ordered photos. These will be available to you for 72 hours only so you can download and/or print them. Purchase cost is $4 per photo.
- Crash photographs in DVD format — Your purchased photos are contained in a DVD, from which you can download them onto your computer. The DVD is delivered to you by mail within four to six weeks. Cost is $12 per photo, regardless of the number of DVDs.
If state police responded to your crash and created their own report, you may also purchase a copy of that document from the same ordering page. You can order the report alongside the photographs, or order the report separately at $4 per report.
The OSHP notes that you have to wait at least seven business days after the accident before these documents are ready for purchase.
Request Crash Pictures and Footage from Franklin County
If your accident is in the jurisdiction of Franklin County, the Sheriff’s Office may be able to provide video footage and photographs. Send a Public Records request to Shelly Toombs of the Franklin County Public Records Office at email@example.com.
Include in your request the type of records you want, and the date and location of your accident.
You may also call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at (614) 525-3333 and ask to make a Public Records request.
If you want paper copies, the cost is $.05 per page. If you want your copies in a compact disc, the cost is $1.00 per disc. Additional fees also apply for mailing and postage.
Can You Get a Copy of 911 Call in Columbus?
Yes, 911 call recordings are generally public record. A 911 audio recording about your accident may be invaluable to your injury claim. In our experience, 911 calls are usually where people tell the truth, before any insurance company or lawyer gets involved.
In Columbus, OH, you can request a copy of a 911 audio recording through any of the following methods:
- Online — Fill out the Columbus Division of Police Public Records Request, available here. Click “Submit Form.”
- By phone — You may call the police Public Records Unit at (614) 645-4925. Request may be done anonymously.
- By fax — The Public Records Unit fax number is (614) 645-0903. Request may be done anonymously.
- By email — Send your request to PublicRecords@ColumbusPolice.org. Request may be done anonymously.
- By post or in person — The Public Records Unit is located at 120 Marconi Blvd., Columbus, OH 43215.
Columbus public record costs are as follows:
- Photocopies: $.05
- Color Copies: $.25
- CD/DVD: $1.00 per disc
Reporting a Crash to the Franklin County Sheriff
The instructions above are about reporting your Columbus accident to city police. If the collision occurred outside city limits but still within Franklin County, you can file your accident report with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. These are the steps to make an accident report to the county sheriff:
- Fill out the “Local Traffic Crash Report” form provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. It is available online here. There is also an instruction guide here. You may print out the blank form to fill out manually, or use a PDF filler program to accomplish the form on your computer before printing. Either way, don’t forget to sign the form.
- Submit the report by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail to 1945 Frebis Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43206.
How Do I Get a Copy of Franklin County Ohio Sheriff Accident Reports?
To obtain a copy of your Franklin County crash report, make a request with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Records Department.
- Physical address: 370 South Front Street, 2nd Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215
- Telephone number: (614) 525-3365.
Include in your request the date and location of your accident, as well as your contact details.
Each accident report costs $4. Additional fees apply for mailing and postage.
Are Police Crash Reports The Same as Insurance and BMV Reports?
No, these are different types of accident reports filed with different entities. Apart from filing your police crash report with Columbus police, you may be required to make separate notifications to your insurance provider and to the Columbus Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
Most auto insurance policies require you to notify your insurer in the event you are involved in an accident. While it may be necessary to contact the insurance company, you’ll want to call your attorney first to guide you on how to deal with insurance representatives.
If the driver who caused the accident does not have insurance, and the collision resulted in at least $400 in property damage, you will need to report to the BMV as well. The reason for this is that driving without insurance is a violation of Ohio law, and the BMV will examine whether to suspend the uninsured driver. You must file your BMV report within six months of the crash.
Get the Help of an Accident Injury Attorney in Columbus
It can quickly get complicated to file an accident report, get a copy of it, and collect other evidence for your injury compensation claim. If you need help with the process, reach out to a personal injury attorney who is experienced in navigating the legal system in Columbus, Franklin County, and Ohio as a whole.
Contact The Fitch Law Firm, one of the most trusted Columbus personal injury law lawyers in central Ohio. With over three decades of experience, our firm has helped numerous Ohioans pursue their claim for fair compensation after their accidents. We are adept at dealing with the claims system and legal procedures in Ohio, and we can handle these for you so you can focus on your healing.
Call our 24/7 line at (614) 810-7280 or use our online contact form.