|Inability to Impose Fees for Police and Firefighter Investigations|
The Mandate: Currently, written reports generated by a police or firefighter investigation of an automobile accident are available to insurance companies at little or no charge. The Freedom of Information Law sets a maximum charge of $0.25 per page for a document that is released to a member of the public and alternatively provides that, if a requested document can be electronically provided, it must be. These insurance companies rely heavily on police and fire departments for investigative work, reporting, interviewing witnesses, etc. They also have enormous assets and generally are extremely profitable, a direct result of quick responses by police and fire departments. While municipal residents generally provide financial support for the operation of these departments through the payment of taxes, non-residents do not, yet they represent a significant percentage of drivers involved in at-fault accidents.
The Cost: Local governments cannot recover the cost of personnel responding to a motor vehicle accident and for the use of specialized equipment in recovery operations.
The Solution: Municipalities should be authorized to charge the insurance company of a non-resident at-fault driver for the costs associated with the services, personnel, supplies, and equipment when personnel from a police department, fire department, or both, respond to the scene of a motor vehicle accident.