Car accident attorneys at Fetterman & Associates, P.A., are dedicated to helping accident victims protect their rights and recover the compensation they deserve for the losses and injuries they experienced. While car accidents are common in the state, many people still don’t know how to handle the situation to ensure they recover the compensation they are entitled to. A crucial aspect of this is the car accident report. Learn more about car accidents in Florida and why getting the accident report is an important part of the personal injury law process.
Florida is home to over 17 million drivers. With so many people on the roads and highways throughout the state, accidents are inevitable. In fact, there are more than 395,000 every year in the Sunshine State. If you are involved in a car accident in Florida, whether you are a resident or visitor, keep the information in mind to ensure your rights are protected.
The Top Benefits of a Police Report After a Florida Car Accident
If another person or entity caused your car accident, the report created by the authorities would provide the supporting evidence you need to prove this. In fact, this is considered an essential piece of evidence for any car accident case. Based on Florida law, if you drive a vehicle involved in a car accident, you have specific responsibilities.
You must remain at the accident scene and help anyone who is injured. You should also exchange information with the drivers of the other vehicle or vehicles involved. If any of the following circumstances are present, you should contact the police or Florida Highway Patrol immediately:
- Estimated damages caused in the car accident are over $500
- Someone died because of the accident
- An intoxicated driver was involved
- The at-fault party left the scene (a hit-and-run accident)
Filing the Police Report
If the police aren’t called to the scene, or if they never arrive, you can file an accident report at the police station in your area. Be sure to collect as much evidence as possible before doing this. Some of the things this includes are videos, photos, and any other details about the accident you can collect or remember. The more information you have about the police or the other people who were involved in your accident, the more complete the report will be.
Important Note: The accident report filed by the police is important. However, something else to note is if a ticket or citation was issued at the scene. This is going to impact any personal injury claim you file.
What’s Included in a Florida Car Accident Police Report
When the authorities arrive at the scene of your accident, they will investigate and gather details about the accident. Usually, an official report is filed within a few hours of your accident. The police will handle this; however, if no authorities appear at the scene, then you must submit one on your own within 10 days of the accident. You can go to a police station (as mentioned above) or use an online reporting service. Some of the information police reports include are:
- Names of all drivers involved, driver’s license numbers, insurance information
- Exact location of the accident
- Date and time of the accident
- Witness statements
- Statements from other drivers
- Injuries experienced by drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others
- Damage to vehicles or other property
- Date and time of the accident
Reports also typically include additional information about the location of the crash, as well as the road conditions.
Can a Car Accident Attorney Help You Get a Police Report?
As mentioned above, you could get a copy of your accident police report from the local police station if the authorities arrived at your accident and you haven’t received it. Also, if you lost your copy of the report, you could request a new copy. A car accident lawyer can help you get a copy of the report if you don’t know how to do this yourself. An example would be if you were taken from the scene in an ambulance because of serious or life-threatening injuries.
The Impact of Police Reports on a Florida Personal Injury Claim
It’s important to note that the police report is considered an essential piece of evidence if you file a personal injury lawsuit. In a police report, the facts about the accident are recorded. It’s an objective document that will help you and your attorney know what occurred and work from there when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The officer at the accident scene will collect testimony from all witnesses and even draw a diagram of the scene that shows the accident and all the related details. They will also include their own personal statements about the observations they made.
The police report provides everyone involved with your personal injury lawsuit an idea of what occurred, no matter how the others involved saw the accident or what they thought. This also helps to avoid the “he said, she said” argument that may occur when taking versions of the event from the parties involved.
According to Florida law, police reports are considered admissible in court. They are accepted under the official records exception. It is worth noting that witness statements in police reports may be considered hearsay.
Reasons Your Car Accident Attorney Will Want a Police Report
A police report is treated as a type of third-party witness to your car accident. Unless the officer is present at the scene, they can’t offer a firsthand retelling of what happened.
Instead, the accident report filed by the police provides a summary of the testimony of all witnesses and what happened after the car accident. While police reports are important in Florida personal injury cases, they are hearsay accounts. It doesn’t do anything to illustrate the damages caused by the accident. Instead, it’s a report of what happened that your attorney can use during your personal injury lawsuit.
Will Insurance Adjusters Utilize the Police Reports?
Police reports aren’t needed for most Florida insurance claims. This is especially the case if you only experienced minimal damage.
However, if more significant damage occurred to your property, if you suffered an injury, or if there was a crime, then you will need a police report. The insurance company will move your claim along faster with a police report on hand.
The Role of the Police Report During a Trial
In some injury cases, particularly those that are caused by car accidents, the police report may be filed based on an underlying incident. If you file a personal injury lawsuit and the case goes to trial, the police report may not help show who caused the accident. However, if your attorney is negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, it can be beneficial. That’s because insurance adjusters utilize these reports to understand the most likely cause of the car accident.
Get the Legal Services You Need from Our Car Accident Attorney
A car accident attorney from Fetterman & Associates, P.A., can help with your claim and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. It’s best to reach out for legal services as soon after an accident as possible to ensure you get the best possible representation. As you can see, filing a police report after an accident is a must to ensure your rights are protected and that you can recover the compensation you are entitled to.