If you have been injured in a car accident, seeking medical attention should be your first priority. But another thing that should be on the top of your to do list is obtaining a copy of the police report for your accident. Your Tampa personal injury attorney will need this police report—along with other documentation—in order to fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
When are the police required to create an accident report? Who is allowed to access these records? How can you request a copy of the report for your accident? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
When Are Law Enforcement Officers Required to Submit An Accident Report in Florida?
It’s in your best interest to call 9-1-1 immediately after a car accident. Tell the dispatcher your location so they can send an officer to the scene of the crash. The officer that arrives at the scene is legally required to create an accident report if the crash meets one or more of the following conditions:
- Someone was injured.
- Someone was killed.
- It was a hit and run.
- It involved an intoxicated driver.
- A wrecker is needed to remove one or more of the vehicles involved.
- A commercial vehicle was involved.
- There is at least $500 in estimated property damage.
If you are involved in an accident that does not meet one of these conditions, you may be able to file your own report with the state.
What Information is Included in the Accident Report?
A police report will contain a great deal of information regarding the accident, including:
- Date and time of the accident
- Where the accident occurred
- Parties’ contact information
- Description of vehicles involved
- Notes on who received medical attention
- Description of property damage
- Road conditions, weather conditions, and other conditions that could have contributed to the cause of the crash
- Sketch of the scene of the accident that shows the positioning of the vehicles, location of road debris, major intersections, traffic signs or lights, and other relevant information
Some law enforcement officers will also include their own opinions regarding who was at fault for the accident. For instance, if one driver ran through a red light and collided with the other vehicle, the officer may note that this driver was responsible for the accident due to his negligent decision to run the red light.
Who Can Access Car Accident Reports in Florida?
The accident report may not be available immediately after the crash. In fact, it can take up to 10 days for the report to become available.
The public cannot access an accident report for the first 60 days following the crash. During this 60-day period, the only parties that are allowed to obtain a copy of the police report are those who were involved in the accident. This includes the parties that were physically present during the crash, their attorneys, representatives from their insurance companies, and others.
After this 60-day period is over, the public can request a copy of an accident report through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV). However, they must pay a $10 fee in order to gain access to an accident report.
This 60-day waiting period was established to protect the victims of car accidents. Before this law was established, these victims received countless unsolicited calls from physicians, chiropractors, and auto repair shops who were trying to profit off of the accident. By establishing this law, the state of Florida ensured that these parties could not find contact information for people who were recently involved in car accidents.
How Can You Obtain A Copy of Your Accident Report?
You can obtain a copy of the police report for your accident online, via mail, or in-person. Requesting a copy online is the easiest way to get a copy of the report. You must pay a $10 fee when submitting the request for a copy of the police report. After submitting this fee, the report will be made available to you immediately. You must download the report within 48 hours or you may need to pay the processing fee again.
If you are requesting a copy of the police report within the 60 days following the crash, you will also need to submit a Sworn Statement to Obtain Crash Report with your request. By signing this statement, you are stating under oath that you are one of the parties involved in the crash, and thus entitled to obtain a copy within the first 60 days. This statement must be notarized before it is submitted. If you attempt to unlawfully obtain a copy of the police report within the first 60 days after the crash, you can face third degree felony charges.
Be sure to review the details of the police report as soon as possible. If the report contains inaccurate or false information about the accident, work with your attorney to contact the authorities and have it corrected. It’s important that the information contained in this report is as accurate as possible, so errors must be addressed.
Discuss Your Legal Options With Our Personal Injury Attorneys After A Car Accident
Have you been injured in a car accident in the greater Tampa Bay area? If so, there’s no time to waste. Reach out to the skilled personal injury attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and your right to compensation.
Our attorneys have been helping the injured obtain the compensation they deserve for decades. We know what it takes to prove liability and secure the compensation you are entitled to for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Let us help you reach the best possible outcome in your car accident case. Call now to schedule a free consultation with our team.