As any Houston Texas resident knows, driving in H-Town is not for the faint of heart. In fact, Houston has some of the worst traffic and some of the most dangerous roads and drivers in the country, according to state and federal traffic safety experts.

With car accidents being so common in the Houston Metro Area, there are a lot of people who need to order crash reports. This blog post will cover everything Houston drivers need to know to get the official facts about a crash.

Dangerous Roads

Houston is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. However, even with nine radial freeways and three ring-roads  (with a fourth in the works), Space City never seems to have enough infrastructure to accommodate the millions of cars trying to cross its sprawling expanse each day. That adds up to a whole lot of crashes. In 2018, Houston had a total of 64,126 car crashes, including 1,030 wrecks that caused serious injuries and 189 accidents that proved fatal. That works out to an average of about 175 car accidents a day in Houston.

What is a Crash Report?

If you seek help from an attorney after an accident, one of the first things they will want to see is a copy of the “crash report.” Under Texas law, all motor vehicle accidents that cause more than $1,000 in property damage, or injury and/or death must be reported to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) within 10 days. There are actually two kinds of crash reports: The “Driver’s Crash Report,” also sometimes called a “CR-2,” and the “Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report,” or “CR-3”.

Both forms contain essential information about the accident, such as the date and time, weather conditions, location, identity of the drivers, the number and types of vehicles involved, identity of witnesses, the extent of the property damage, and whether there were any injuries. It is important to be thorough and truthful when recording the circumstances of a wreck, because CR-2 and CR-3 forms will be used to determine fault when a claim is made, whether for injuries or property damage.

A DIY Form for Fender-Benders

The CR-2, or “Blue Form” is the form drivers fill out after an accident that police did not investigate. Sometimes, car crashes do not appear to be serious at first, and the drivers exchange information without getting authorities involved. If one of the drivers realizes later on that the damage to their car was worse than they thought or that they are injured and need medical attention after all, they would need to retroactively fill out a driver’s crash report.

There is some confusion about CR-2 forms. Until recently, it was mandatory to file a CR-2 with TXDOT. Due to a 2017 change in Texas law, apparently TXDOT no longer issues or collects CR-2 forms. However, filling out a CR-2 is still important because it provides an official record of the crash that drivers can  present to attorneys, police, insurance companies and medical providers if problems arise later on. You can download a fillable CR-2 form from the Houston Police Department website. Since the state no longer stores these records, it is very important to keep a copy for your own records.

A Form for More Serious Accidents

Any officer who investigates a crash that causes injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage must complete a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report, or CR-3, and file it with TXDOT within 10 days. The form is similar to the CR-2, but more detailed. CR-3 forms help investigators, police, medical experts, insurance companies, and attorneys learn more about the circumstances surrounding the individual crash as well as vehicle collisions in the area as a whole. They also help state public safety experts gather important information that helps them understand when, where, and why car crashes are happening.

How to Order a Report

TxDOT manages CR-3 forms, so the best way to get a crash report is to purchase it through their website portal, the Crash Records Information System, or CRIS.

Due to the sensitive information they contain, crash reports are not available to the general public. Only people who are directly concerned in the crash in some way may order the reports. This includes the people involved in the crash, their attorneys, law enforcement officers, insurance companies, and owners of the involved vehicles, among others.

You will need to supply some basic information about the crash in question, such as the name of a person or company involved in the crash, the driver’s license number for a person involved in the crash, a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for a vehicle that was involved in the crash, or the TxDOT Crash ID that was assigned to the case. It is also helpful to know the city, county and date of the accident.

Which Type of Report Do I Need?

Reports can take up to 14 days to appear in the Crash Records Information System , so if your search does not return a record, you may need to wait a day or two and try again. Once the system has located the right crash report, you will be asked to choose between purchasing a certified and an uncertified copy. For legal proceedings and other official business, such as employment verification, it is important to choose a certified copy, which will cost $8. The certified copy comes with a stamp and signature verifying that it is a true and correct official state record. For unofficial business, an uncertified copy, which costs $6, will do.

You may also be asked to choose between a redacted and non-redacted report. A non-redacted report includes all available information, including phone numbers, addresses, and dates of birth. Only those who are directly involved in a crash can purchase the full, non-redacted report. A redacted report has some potentially sensitive personal information removed. Anyone can order a redacted report.

Purchasers can pay for reports with a credit or debit card or electronic check. Once the purchase is complete, the report is available for download for ten days.

If you have been hurt in a car crash and have questions about the legal process, contact The Callahan Law Firm’s experienced car accident attorneys for a free case consultation.