If you've been in a car accident, taking care of the paperwork, working with your insurance company, and getting your car fixed can be confusing and overwhelming. Hopefully, some of the tools provided on this page can help.
Since it isn't something most of us use every day, some of the terminology you will run across as you wade through accident paperwork can be confusing. Here is a list of the most commonly questioned terms. If we've missed something, let us know.
Forms and Reports
(Use the "RMV" downloadable forms button in the quick links panel on the right side of our main police page to access most forms listed here) Many people confuse the various forms and reports that are generated for each accident. Basically:
- You are required to fill out the Crash Operator Report if your accident is reportable
- You can use the Information Exchange form to help with your Crash Report.
- Your insurance company requests a copy of the Police Report, if any. (You may also request a copy).
Here is some more clarification:
Exchange Form (Operator Information Form)
The Exchange Form (or Operator Information Form) is a big help when you are filling out your paperwork and talking with your insurance company. If the Provincetown Police Department was present at the accident scene, we should have given you an Exchange Form at the scene or have one ready for you to pick up at the police station the day after your accident (in most cases). The Exchange Form is not a form for you to fill out. It simply lists all of the important information pertaining to all drivers and vehicles involved in the accident. If needed just come to the station and ask the desk personnel for your Exchange Form.
RMV Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report
This is the 4-page form the Registry of Motor Vehicles requires from all drivers involved in a reportable accident. The cover page will clarify some of the sections you are required to fill out. This list of definitions should clear up some of the rest. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to call us at 508-487-1212 for assistance. Once the form is completed, make three photocopies and mail one to the RMV, one to your insurance company, and one to the police department (department address is 26 Shankpainter Road Provincetown, MA 02657). Keep the original for your records.
For most reportable accidents we respond to, the officer fills out his / her own report, which is similar to the Operator's Crash Report you fill out yourself. In some cases, the officer may also write an Incident Report, which is an extended narrative about what happened. Subject to the approval of the Chief of Police, you may be entitled to obtain a copy of the Police Report and/or Crash Report for a fee. It is important to note, however, that your insurance company should request a copy of the Police Report from us directly. They should not require you to do that for them. If you would like a copy for your own information and records, you may request it by filling out our Police Report Request Form and returning it to us.
REPORTABLE vs. NON-REPORTABLE ACCIDENTS
The terminology here is a little misleading. Whether or not an accident is "reportable" does not refer to whether or not the accident was reported to the police, but rather whether or not the driver(s) should fill out and file an Operator's Crash Report. All accidents should be reported to the police department as soon as they occur, so that officers can be on-scene to evaluate what happened. Your insurance company should also be notified as soon as possible. More clarification is below:
A "reportable" accident is any motor vehicle accident which occurred on a public way where:
1) The damage to any one vehicle or other property damage exceeds$1000
2) Anyone is injured
All drivers are required to fill out and file an Operator's Crash Report with the Registry, the Police Department, and their insurance company for reportable accidents.
Any motor vehicle accident that occurs on private property — a private road, in a private parking lot (i.e. the grocery store, bank, etc.), in someone's driveway, or any other private property is considered "non-reportable", regardless of the extent of vehicle damage, other property damage, and/or personal injury. Even though the police may be called and are on-scene for a non-reportable accident, driver(s) do not have to fill out and file an Operator's Crash Report. Your insurance company, however, should be notified as soon as possible, and they may ask you to fill out a Crash Report for their information.
About your vehicle, registration, and license
You need to be able to differentiate between these terms in order to fill out your Operator's Crash Report accurately:
Your driver's license number (not your license plate number). This is generally a 9-digit number beginning with a letter (usually S), printed on your driver's license.
The number printed on your license plate (also found on your paper registration).
The registration type is printed on your paper registration; there is a list of 3-character codes to choose from. Most private passenger cars with State-assigned numbers are PAN (Passenger Normal). Special plates (such as Cape & Islands, Red Sox, Bruins, Right Whale, etc.) are considered PAS, and vanity plates (your last name, special numbers, etc.) are PAV.
Other Useful Terms
Here are a few more terms you'll find on the Operator's Crash Report that have a definition you may find helpful:
On the Registry's Operator's Crash Report form, the term "property damage" refers to damage caused to anything other than vehicles, regardless of whether the property is considered private (i.e. someone's fence, mailbox, lawn, etc.) or public (i.e. a guardrail or street sign). The examples listed in parentheses in this paragraph are all examples of "property" for purposes of filling out the Crash Report.
Public Way vs. Private Property
Accidents which occur on public ways may be considered reportable. Any roadway, parking lot, driveway, or access road owned and/or maintained by the US government, the Town, or the State is considered a public way. For example, Commercial Street, Bradford Street are all public ways, as are the public parking lots and MacMillan Wharf. Roads designated as Private are not maintained or plowed by Town and are therefore considered private property. In addition, private parking lots or lots for private businesses and driveways leading to private homes are not considered public ways. Accidents occurring on private property, including private roads, are non-reportable.