Morgan Gaynor | June 2, 2021 | Car Accidents
When a matter is public record, documents filed with the court or a government entity are accessible by members of the public. For example, most lawsuits are matters of public record—you can review the documents filed in the lawsuit. Reports filed with a Florida government office are generally matters of public record, including car accident reports.
When is a Car Accident Report Filed?
According to Florida traffic laws, drivers must stop if they are involved in a traffic accident. They must exchange information with the other driver. If the accident involves a traffic fatality, personal injury, or property damage of $500 or more, the drivers must report the accident to the state.
The quickest way to report a car accident is to call 911. The operator will dispatch the appropriate law enforcement agencies and emergency medical services. When police officers arrive at the accident scene, they investigate the crash and prepare a written crash report.
The crash report is available to certain parties for the first 60 days following a crash. After 60 days, the car accident report becomes a matter of public record pursuant to Florida Statute §316.066.
Who Can Obtain a Copy of an Accident Report Within the First 60 Days?
For the first 60 days after a traffic accident, the parties who can access the record include:
- The drivers and passengers involved in the car crash
- The legal representatives of anyone involved in the car accident
- Car insurance companies who provide insurance for the vehicles or the people involved in the car wreck
- County traffic operations and law enforcement officials
- The Department of Transportation
- Newspapers that publish legal notices
- Television stations and radio stations that are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission
- A prosecutor’s office
- Service programs for victims
- An insurance company that received an application for insurance from one of the accident victims
- People who are under contract with an insurance company to provide claims information
Limiting the information in the crash report to specific parties for the first 60 days allows accident victims the time they need to seek medical treatment and legal advice about car accident claims. Keeping the information from the public prevents others from taking advantage of accident victims.
What Information Does a Florida Car Accident Report Contain?
Crash reports contain a great deal of information that could be useful for an accident victim, including:
- The location, time, and date of the traffic accident
- The weather and road conditions at the time of the collision
- The names and contact information for each driver and passenger involved in the car wreck
- A description of the damage to each vehicle
- Statements made to the police officer by the parties and eyewitnesses
- A sketch of the accident scene by the police officer
- Whether the police officer issued traffic tickets to either driver
- The police officer’s determination of who caused the car accident
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, accident victims could be entitled to compensation for serious injuries. They may be able to sue the at-fault driver for damages that their PIP insurance won’t cover, including economic damages and non-economic damages.
The insurance company could accept the conclusions of the police officer. However, if the insurance company for the other driver disputes fault or tries to blame you for the crash, it is best to seek legal advice immediately. An attorney can conduct an independent accident investigation to gather evidence proving the other driver caused the crash.
How Do I Get a Copy of My Florida Car Accident Report?
The FLHSMV keeps copies of car accident reports in Florida. The quickest and easiest way to get a copy of your car accident report is to access the report online. There is a $10 fee for each crash report, plus a $2 convenience fee.
You may also request a copy of your crash report by mail. Mail the required forms and fee to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, ATTN: Crash Records, 2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS28, Tallahassee, FL 32399.
The FHP Troop Station closest to the site of your crash can also provide copies of crash reports. Check with the FHP Troop Station before appearing in person for requirements for obtaining a crash report.
If you hire a car accident lawyer, your lawyer will obtain a copy of the crash report for you. Once you review the report, notify your attorney immediately if you notice mistakes. Factual errors may be corrected, but the police officer probably will not change opinions of fault or traffic violations.