Free Police Reports Online? A Comprehensive Guide

Looking for a free police report after a crash? Certainly, police reports play a crucial role in car accident cases, providing essential documentation of the incident.

Missouri Highway Patrol Police Report

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into various aspects of police reports, including their processing time, duration of storage, accessibility, and reveal the only true way to get a free copy. (Spoiler alert: they aren’t free unless you hire a personal injury lawyer to pay for them).

1. Are police reports free to the public?

No. Offical police reports cost money. Missouri statute 610.023(3) establishes the fee for car accident reports (police reports). Currently, that cost is $0.10 per page and compensation for the time to local the report at $15.00 per hour. Usually, that reults in a cost of about $5 to $10 dollars, and varies depending upon the number of pages in the report. The Missouri Highway Patrol keeps a real-time website that provides free informal information about who was involved in a crash, how it occurred, car insurance information and whether anyone was injured or killed. The information on that site is free and is open to the public. However, the highway patrol charges for their formal reports and there is no way to get these for free, unless you hire a personal injury lawyer.

2. How long do police accident reports take after a motor vehicle crash?

Police reports typically vary in processing time depending on the jurisdiction and complexity of the incident. While some reports may be available within a few days, others might take several weeks to be finalized. Factors such as witness statements, forensic analysis, and administrative procedures contribute to the duration. The City of St. Louis indicates their police reports are “usually” available 5 days after a crash. In our experience, the Missouri Highway Patrol takes much longer, especially if a reconstruction was performed. In some complex cases, it may take many, many months to obtain the full report.

3. How long do police reports stay on file in Missouri?

Police reports are maintained by law enforcement agencies for a specific period, usually ranging from several years to indefinitely, depending upon the type of report.  Under Missouri law, incident reports are maintained The retention period varies based on state laws and the nature of the incident. In Missouri, civil incident reports are only kept for 1 year. Accidetn reports, or crash reports, are kept for a minimum of 5 years. However, accidental death police reports are kept for 50 years. These statewide policies set the minimum standards and local municipalities can elect to keep records longer, if they wish.

4. How do you access Missouri police reports?

Individuals involved in a personal injury case, including victims, attorneys, and insurance representatives, have the right to access police reports. Access procedures may vary by jurisdiction, but commonly involve requesting the report from the respective law enforcement agency. Missouri’s sunsine law, RSMO Chapter 610 sets for a procedure for obtaining this information as well as the associated costs.

5. How do you find Missouri accident reports?

Locating police reports often involves contacting the law enforcement agency responsible for handling the incident. In some cases, online databases or specialized portals may facilitate the search process, allowing users to locate reports by providing relevant details such as the incident date, location, and parties involved. Often, on larger motor vehicle crashes, both local authorities as well as the State Highway Patrol will jointly investigate a crash. This means you will have to obtain both reports. In death cases, the Missouri Highway Patrol always reponds and perform a full accident reconstruction.

6. How do you obtain police reports?

To obtain a police report, individuals typically need to submit a formal request to the relevant law enforcement agency. This request may require specific information, such as the incident report number, date of occurrence, and the parties involved. Depending on the jurisdiction, requests can be made in person, by mail, or online.

7. How do you access police reports online?

Many law enforcement agencies now offer online platforms or portals where individuals can access police reports conveniently. These platforms may require users to register and provide specific details related to the incident for verification purposes. Besides the Missouri Highway Patrol site mentioned above, some cities maintain their own real-time incident reports online. For instance, the City of St. Louis maintains a real-time listing of accident reports. Most cities in Missouri, however, do not. There are some third-party companies such as BuyCrash that charge a fee for obtaining a police report online.

8. How do you obtain old police reports?

Retrieving old police reports often follows the same procedures as accessing recent reports. However, individuals may encounter additional challenges, such as locating archived records or navigating changes in administrative processes. Persistence and clear communication with the relevant authorities are key to obtaining older reports. See Section 2, above, for information on how long reports are kept.

9. Importance of police reports in personal injury cases

Emphasizing the significance of police reports in personal injury cases underscores their role as primary evidence. These reports serve as impartial documentation of the incident, providing crucial details such as the parties involved, witness statements, and preliminary assessments. Their accuracy and objectivity lend credibility to legal proceedings, helping establish liability and facilitating fair compensation for victims.

10. Analyzing police reports for legal strategies

Beyond their factual recounting of events, police reports offer valuable insights for crafting legal strategies. Attorneys specializing in personal injury law meticulously analyze these reports, identifying inconsistencies, evaluating liability, and uncovering potential avenues for litigation. Through a thorough examination of the report’s contents, legal teams can develop robust arguments to support their clients’ claims.

11. Utilizing police reports in settlement negotiations with insurance companies

During settlement negotiations, police reports serve as foundational evidence, guiding discussions and informing negotiation strategies. Attorneys leverage the information contained within these reports to advocate for fair and just compensation on behalf of their clients. By presenting compelling evidence supported by police documentation, parties can reach mutually beneficial settlements without resorting to protracted litigation.

12. Admissibility of police reports in court

In the event that a personal injury case proceeds to trial, the admissibility of police reports as evidence is subject to legal scrutiny. While generally admissible under hearsay exceptions, challenges may arise regarding authenticity, relevance, or prejudicial effect. Legal arguments and pre-trial motions may be necessary to establish the admissibility of police reports and maximize their impact during trial proceedings. A seasoned personal injury lawyer who is trained in analyzing hearsay can help you detect what statements should not come into evidence at trial.

13. Continued relevance of police reports in legal precedent

Even after the conclusion of a personal injury case, police reports retain their significance as legal precedent. Court decisions based on the contents of police reports establish precedents that shape future legal interpretations and outcomes. As such, the thoroughness and accuracy of police reports influence not only individual cases but also broader legal principles and jurisprudence.

14. If I order the police report, will they sent me all the investigation related to my Missouri car accident?

No. This is one of the traps that unfamiliar people fall into (and even some inexperienced accident lawyers). When you request a police report, that does not include accident reconstruction, nor does it include photographs, police dash camera footage, body camera footage, 911 call recordings, etc. Obtaining these items will require separate requests.


In the intricate landscape of personal injury law, police reports stand as pillars of evidence, guiding legal proceedings and shaping outcomes. From their initial compilation to their enduring impact on legal precedent, police reports play a multifaceted role in the pursuit of justice and resolution for victims of accidents and negligence. By recognizing their importance, navigating challenges, and leveraging their insights, individuals and legal professionals can harness the power of police reports to advocate for accountability, compensation, and closure in personal injury cases.

If you need assistance in obtaining a free police report after your crash, our law office can help. If your case meets our intake criteria, we will order and pay for all reports and analyze them to determine if you have a viable personal injury case. While police reports are never “free,” injury lawyers at Bradley Law will obtain them free of any charge for qualified accident cases.

Contact our personal injury law firm today for a free consultation and to begin the process of obtaining a free police accident report.