Obtaining a Police Report After a California Auto Wreck

Every car accident comes with its fair share of hassles, including the one you might not think of right away: getting a police report.

Few Costa Mesa residents know exactly how to get a police report for a car accident, and why would they? You never really think of the process — or the importance of getting the police report in the first place — until you’ve actually been in a serious car crash.

If you’re wondering how to get your hands on the police report for your California car wreck, you’re in the right place. In this post, our Costa Mesa car accident attorney Case Barnett Law team walks you through how to get the report and how you can use it. Read on to learn more, or reach out to our firm for help.

Ways to Get the Police Report for Your Car Accident

Many work and social activities take place online these days, but one thing that is still firmly offline is the process of getting a car accident report from the City of Costa Mesa. As of the time of this writing, you cannot easily get your car accident police report online from the city.

Keep in mind that this only applies if the Costa Mesa police are the ones who created the police report. You can get car accident reports in much of Orange County via email. With that said, let’s take a look at how to get a police report for a car accident in Costa Mesa:


To get a copy of your traffic collision report in person, you will have to go to the Costa Mesa Police Department. Between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays, you can show up in person at 99 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, to request a copy of your car accident police report.

You will have to pay a small fee, and it’s often a good idea to call the police department ahead of time to make sure your report is actually ready before you make the drive. You can reach the Records Department at (714) 754-5373.

By Mail

If you can afford to wait seven to 10 days to see your car crash report, requesting a copy from the City of Costa Mesa through the mail is a perfectly acceptable option. To make the request, you need to send the police department several items:

  • A signed letter with the details of your accident, including the date and time of day your accident occurred, your name, your date of birth, and the accident report number (if you have it)
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope so the department can send your report back to you
  • A copy of your valid ID, such as a driver’s license
  • A check made out to the City of Costa Mesa (the amount was $9 at the time of this writing, but call the department at (714) 754-5373 to verify the amount)

You will need to send the request for your police report to the Costa Mesa Police Department’s post office box: P.O. Box 1200, Costa Mesa, CA 92628.

Through the Insurance Adjuster

This is how to get a police report for a car accident for free: Reach out to the insurance adjuster and ask for a copy. If you already have an insurance adjuster involved in your car accident insurance claim, it’s a safe bet that they have already gotten a copy of the police report for your car accident. The worst they can do is say no.

Through Your Lawyer

The easiest way to get a car accident police report is to have someone else do it for you — in this case, your attorney. If you decide to work with an attorney to pursue compensation for your car accident, they will get the police report for you.

Why Car Accident Police Reports Matter

Why should you care about getting the police report for your car accident, anyway? The first and most important reason is that the insurance company is going to immediately request a copy of the report, and they are going to use that report as part of their investigation into your accident claim.

Police reports for traffic accidents contain lots of details that could prove valuable in an insurance claim or even a car accident lawsuit. Examples include the date and time of the crash, simple diagrams of the accident scene, the contact information of witnesses, statements from you and the other driver, and even the responding officer’s own opinion about what happened.

Are Police Reports Good Evidence in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

While police reports can be enormously useful in car accident settlement negotiations, you can’t usually use them as evidence in court. In most cases, these reports will be interpreted as “hearsay” evidence, which is inadmissible in court under California law.

With that said, do you really need to know how to get a police report for your Costa Mesa car accident? Absolutely. That’s because a police report is an important starting point for gathering all kinds of other evidence that your attorney may use during settlement negotiations or in court as you pursue compensation for your injuries.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law