Being in a car accident can be a traumatic event for all involved. In addition to dealing with damage to your vehicle and potential injuries, the questions and issues you face after your accident can be overwhelming. Understanding the process and the significance of all documents involved can go a long way towards relieving some of the anxiety you may be experiencing. A Clearwater personal injury attorney can help you sort through the aftermath and ensure that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.
One document you will encounter after you are involved in a car accident is a traffic accident report.1 Accident reports are created by an officer at the scene of the accident and are that officer’s account of the accident as well as any other relevant observations. Accident reports can contain incredible amounts of information If you know what you are looking for. Accident reports in Florida typically contain:
- Date and time of the accident;
- Location, including the city and street information;
- Parties involved in the accident;
- Insurance information for those involved;
- Any contributing factors to the accident the reporting officer noticed
- The officer’s narrative of what happened
- If a ticket was administered, and if so, to whom and for what violation;
- Weather conditions at the time of the accident;
- The officer’s evaluation of damage done to vehicles;
- Any injuries to people involved in the case; and
- Any additional relevant information.
It is common for individuals to want to see a copy of their accident report after they have been involved in a collision so see what the reporting officer observed and concluded about their accident.
Do I Have to Report My Accident?
There are a million things going through your mind after you’ve been involved in an accident, and taking the time to think to report it may be low on the list. However, it is important that your car accident gets reported and an accident report is generated. In some cases, it is required by law that you report your accident.
In Florida, the driver of a vehicle must report an accident by law2 if:
- The accident resulted in injury to or death of any person (including passengers and/or pedestrians); and/or
- The accident resulted in damage to any vehicle or other property of more than $500.
If your accident qualifies, you must report to the local police department immediately. If your accident did not occur within a municipality, you must report to either the county sheriff of the Florida Highway Patrol.
You must make your report immediately after your accident by the best means available to you. In most cases, this will be by cell phone call. If you are incapacitated by the accident, you are exempt from this requirement until someone else makes the report or you regain capacity. After you have informed the proper authority, your duty is done. The police will then investigate the accident and file the accident report.
If the police do not investigate the accident, then the driver must file a written report with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles within 10 days of the accident.
Failure to meet these reporting requirements is a non-criminal traffic violation, punishable by a fine of $30.
There is no requirement that you make a report to your insurance agency if you do not wish to do so. However, your insurance agreement may require you to make a report, even if the accident wouldn’t otherwise be reportable under Florida law. If you are unsure about whether or not you should or are required to report an accident to your insurer, it may be best to consult with a Florida auto accident attorney about your rights and obligations.
How Accident Reports Are Used
Because of the wealth of information usually contained in accident reports, they can be valuable in supporting your personal injury or wrongful death claim. While the reports themselves are not admissible at trial, the reports are a good source of information to help you and your Florida personal injury attorney evaluate your claim and gather evidence to support it.
How Do I Get A Copy Of My Accident Report?
For information on how to obtain your Florida accident report, visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website .
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation!
If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney right away. Florida tort law allows victims to recover compensation for injuries and other losses that they may experience as a result of a preventable accident. A lawyer familiar with litigating Florida personal injury cases can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an accident to discuss their options with an experienced lawyer.