How to Read Your Texas Police Accident Report

Reviewed by Louis Patino, JD, DC

Louis Patino, JD, DC
A former U.S. Army Combat Medic, Dr. Louis Patino is a distinguished attorney recognised by Top Attorneys of America, Expertise, and the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. He has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.

texas crash report codes

A car accident is a traumatic experience that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Not only do you have to cope with your physical injuries and the emotional fallout, but you also have to navigate the complex process of filing insurance claims, dealing with law enforcement, and recovering compensation.

A significant part of this process involves paperwork. One of your first steps after a crash will likely be explaining your accident to the police so they can file a vehicle accident report.

Answering an officer’s questions may be the last thing you want to do after an auto accident, but it can prove vital. Those few slips of paper can help show you are not responsible for the accident and entitle you to a massive settlement.

But what is the Texas accident form, how do you get a copy, and how do you read yours?

Let Patino Law Firm handle your claim so you can focus on your health and recovery. We can retrieve a copy of your crash report, explain what it means for you, verify its accuracy, and gather supporting evidence to secure the compensation you deserve after your road accident. Click to book a free, no-obligation case review with our personal injury lawyer in McAllen and San Antonio.

This blog explains everything you need to know, including when accident reports are required in Texas and how the accident report codes used by law enforcement could make a big difference to your personal injury claim.

When Are Accident Reports Required in Texas?

Let’s say you’re in a minor accident. Your car sustained some bumps and knocks, but thankfully, nobody involved was hurt, and the damage won’t be too expensive to fix. You decide not to call the police — or they won’t attend the scene. Should you still report the accident?

Each state has rules on when and if you should report an auto accident. You must report a Texas accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if it results in injury, death, or damage to property or vehicles exceeding $1,000.

If the accident causes death or injury, you must report it immediately. If the crash causes property damage, you have up to 10 days to inform the DMV.

So going back to that first scenario: should you report the accident?

Legally, you don’t have to. Your decision will ultimately depend on the cost of repairs and the impact an insurance claim might have on your future premiums.

If you or anyone else has sustained an injury in the accident — from a headache to a tragic fatality — you should call the police, who will fill out a document called the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3). It’s worth noting that any police report generated after an accident is automatically filed with the DMV.

But that might not be the end of the story. 

If you want to pursue compensation for your injuries, you’ll need a copy of your Texas accident form.

What Is the Texas Vehicle Accident Report?

Your Texas auto accident report is crucial evidence for a successful personal injury claim because it helps establish what happened, how it happened, what injuries you sustained, and, vitally, who was responsible. Insurance companies also use this document to determine who is liable for an accident.

How to Get a Copy of Your Car Accident Report

The general public cannot access accident reports online as they are confidential, so you’ll need to request a copy via the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Crash Records Information System (CRIS). This is easy to do using the TxDOT system.

How Much Does a Texas Car Accident Report Cost?

You’ll need to pay a small fee to access your accident report, with several options available.

A regular report copy costs $6. Affidavit and subpoena requests and certified copies are slightly more expensive at $8.

Which should you choose?

You will need a certified copy if you require an official document for a legal proceeding, such as a personal injury claim.

What Information Do You Need to Provide to Get Your Texas Police Accident Report?

When you click into the TxDOT online portal to get your report, you’ll need to provide some information so the system can identify your crash — otherwise, you won’t be able to purchase one. You can select from one of the following:

  • The legal name of a driver involved in the accident.
  • The driver’s license or ID number of a driver involved (this is an 8-digit number on the front of the card, at the top).
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident. You can find this 17-digit number on the car — usually on the front of the dashboard or door pillar on the driver’s side — or your vehicle’s registration and insurance documents.
  • The eight-digit Texas Department of Transportation Crash ID assigned after the accident, which is provided to the investigating officer after submitting their report. You can get this number from the law enforcement agency that investigated your car crash.

It can take up to 14 days for your crash to appear in the search results, so don’t be alarmed if it’s only been a few days or a week since your accident and you can’t find your report.

Who Can Access Car Accident Reports?

Any driver in a Texas auto accident can obtain a copy of their accident report. But they’re not the only people who can retrieve one.

Since 2015 — when the 84th Texas Legislature began — Section 550.065 of the Texas Transportation Code has allowed the release of crash reports to anyone with a “proper interest” in the accident, including:

  • An authorized representative of a person involved in the accident, such as an attorney
  • An employer
  • A legal guardian
  • A parent of a person involved.

Our car accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can request a copy of your accident report on your behalf. We will ensure it’s correct — and contact the police to set the record straight if it isn’t — and use it to get you the maximum possible compensation.  

How to Read Your Texas Vehicle Accident Report

At first glance, your accident report may look like a jumble of numbers and codes that don’t make sense, but deciphering these reveals a wealth of information about your car accident that you can use in your personal injury claim.

Page One: An Overview of Your Accident

A standard Texas accident report is four pages long. Page one provides a general overview of your crash, including where it happened and the first three drivers or other parties involved.

This page also documents injuries known to the investigating officer when they wrote the report. These are often visible injuries, such as wounds, but what if you have hidden injuries? Some injuries — such as whiplash and concussion — don’t present symptoms immediately, and you may have additional injuries you don’t notice until later because adrenaline masks the pain.

Make no mistake: your Texas accident report is vital evidence. Fortunately, though, it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Other evidence, such as medical reports, can be even more beneficial for your injuries specifically, as they demonstrate how your injuries evolve and are authored by a qualified expert.

What to look out for: Page one of your Texas accident report will contain various codes corresponding to the severity of injuries sustained, restraints used, drug test results, and more. It’s vital to check these codes are correct.

Example Texas Police Accident Report Codes

If you are in a car crash with a single driver, your Texas police accident report may look like this:

Person number Name: Last, First, Middle Injury Severity Airbag
1 Doe, Jane A 2
2 Smith, John B 2

Your accident report will contain additional columns, but here, we’ll only look at a couple.

Let’s break down what these codes mean:

  • Under “Injury Severity,” “A” indicates a “Suspected Serious Injury”; “B” corresponds to a “Suspected Minor Injury.”
  • Under “Airbag,” a “2” indicates the front airbag deployed.

But what if Jane Doe’s airbag was defective and did not deploy?

In this scenario, let’s imagine John Smith did not have insurance because he could not afford it. Knowing this, Jane Doe does not want to pursue a compensation claim against Smith because he is unlikely to have the funds for a settlement.

However, she could pursue compensation from the airbag manufacturer.

The problem is that the police accident report incorrectly labels the airbag as deploying.

Not noticing this could affect Doe’s ability to recover compensation.

Page 2: Fatalities, Charges, and Contributing Factors

Page two of your Texas crash report documents the time of death of anyone killed in the accident and whether an accident victim was taken to hospital, along with which hospital and who by. 

There is also a space for the investigating officer to list any citations or charges against drivers. Charges can suggest liability, but another driver may still be at fault even if the police don’t issue a citation.

Common violations, as listed in the Texas Administrative Code, include:

  • Consuming alcohol while driving
  • Disregarding a no lane change sign
  • Failing to signal the required distance before turning
  • Failing to yield at a stop intersection
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to give way when overtaken
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Reckless driving.

One of the most important — and interesting — sections on this page of your Texas accident report is “Contributing Factors.”

Here, the officer will note any potential factors that led to the accident, such as a driver being fatigued or asleep at the wheel, turning improperly, or using a cell phone.

There is also space for the officer to write a narrative of the accident and draw diagrams. This section is typically a “catch-all” space for details that don’t fit elsewhere in the report. 

Example Contributing Factors

Contributing Factors (Investigator’s Opinion)
Contributing May Have Contributed
40 45 61

As with the previous example, each of these numbers corresponds to a specific factor or condition:

  • 40: Fatigued or Asleep
  • 45: Had Been Drinking
  • 61: Speeding (Over Limit)

In the narrative section, the investigating officer explains that John Smith had been drinking, causing him to fall asleep at the wheel.

He was also speeding, but why is this recorded as “May Have Contributed”?

In this scenario, it’s likely that falling asleep — because the driver had been drinking — caused him to push the gas pedal harder. Had the driver not been drinking and fallen asleep, he may have been able to avoid the crash even if he was speeding. The officer determines, in his opinion, that falling asleep ultimately caused the accident and lists it as a contributing factor.

Investigators have 70 contributing factors and conditions to select from, including:

20 = Driver Inattention 44 = Followed Too Closely 60 = Unsafe Speed 68 = Intoxicated – Drug
22 = Failed to Control Speed 45 = Had Been Drinking 61 = Speeding – (Over Limit) 73 = Road Rage
28 = Failed to Signal or Gave Wrong Signal 48 = Impaired Visibility (Explain in Narrative) 66 = Turned when Unsafe 74 = Cell/Mobile Device Use – Talking
40 = Fatigued or Asleep 50 = Load Not Secured 67 = Intoxicated – Alcohol 75 = Cell/Mobile Device Use – Texting

This section can help determine who is responsible for your accident, so pay careful attention to the list of contributing factors and the investigator’s narrative.

Pages 3 & 4

Pages three and four are where the Texas police accident report differs depending on when your accident happened.

2023 TxDOT Texas Accident Report Form

TxDOT revised the CR-3 Texas Peace Officer’s crash report form on April 1st, 2023. Officers must use the revised form for crashes occurring on or after this date.

In this form, pages three and four document additional individuals involved in an accident when there is no space on page one.

The transportation agency also provides a supplemental Code Sheet, which outlines all the TxDOT accident report codes available to an investigating officer.

2018 TxDOT Texas Accident Report Form

The 2018 CR-3 Form is near-identical to its newer counterpart. The main difference is in the report codes used by law enforcement to document the crash.

Notably, the 2018 Texas police accident report lists 65 possible codes an officer can cite when determining the potential contributing factors, while the 2023 revised form lists 70.

This has no bearing on how you read your report if your copy is the older version, nor did it prevent officers from accurately recording how the accident happened. Were a contributing factor not listed in the 2018 code sheet, officers could select code “98 = Other” and provide further details in the narrative.

The wording of the codes denoting an accident victim’s injury severity also varies based on the report used, although the general meaning remains the same.

In the 2018 form:

  • “A” is an “Incapacitating Injury
  • “B” a “Non-Capacitating Injury”
  • “K” is “Killed.”

In the revised (2023) form:

  • “A” is a “Suspected Severe Injury”
  • “B” is a “Suspected Minor Injury”
  • “K” is a “Fatal Injury”

Officers use the 2018 CR-3 Form for all reportable crashes between January 1st, 2018, and March 31st, 2023.

Alternate CR-3 Accident Report Forms

TxDOT previously offered law enforcement an alternative crash form that was formatted to include the crash report codes within the report.

This form, called CR-3A, could be used for crashes occurring between 2013 and 2017.

Pages one and two of the CR-3A record when and where the crash happened, who was involved, the injuries sustained, and which hospital injured parties were taken to. 

Page three details the environmental and roadway conditions and accident narrative, and page four documents the contributing factors, vehicle details, and any citations given.

Accident Report Downloads

Want to see what your vehicle accident report might look like and how it’s formatted? Download blank copies of the 2023 and 2018 Texas CR-3 vehicle accident forms and a list of report codes used by police officers after a crash.

The CR-3 Texas Police Accident Report is a valuable resource in your personal injury claim. It’s easy to see how the contributing factors alone can help indicate liability.

However, remember that the other party can also access your accident report. If it indicates you were fatigued or following too closely, they might argue you were partially responsible, which can affect your personal injury settlement.

Your accident report is also not enough. You will need additional evidence and the support of an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer to succeed.

If you need help accessing or reading your Texas crash report, contact our car accident lawyers in San Antonio and McAllen. We can help you understand your report and claim the compensation you deserve. Call 855-LAW-NINJA, fill in the confidential contact form, or pop into one of our offices for a free, no-obligation consultation:

We promise you won’t pay us until we win your claim.

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