Car accidents come out of the blue, and no one is ever prepared. The time right after a car accident can be confusing and you want to make sure you do the right thing. But how do you know what the “right thing” is? In Florida, do you need to report all car accidents to the police? And should you get a copy of the police report after you do?
The state of Florida requires that all drivers report a car accident that involves the injury or death of any person immediately. In addition, a driver must report any accident that appears to have caused a minimum of $500 worth of damage. This should be reported to the local police department if the accident occurred within a municipality or otherwise to the county sheriff’s office or Florida Highway Patrol.
Filing a Police Report
But even if the accident doesn’t require a police report, it is a good idea to get one anyway. A police report will offer an impartial understanding of the accident and will also be required by your insurance company if you intend to file a claim.
After any accident, your best course of action should be to stay at the scene and call the police. When the police arrive, you will get the chance to discuss the details of the accident from your perspective. The other drivers and witnesses will also be interviewed so the officer can make a determination of what and who caused the accident. After you have filed a report, you can get a copy of it for your records and for your insurance company.
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What Information Does a Police Report Include?
In some circumstances, the investigating police officer will complete a written report called the Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form. This is required for any accident that
- Has resulted in an injury or fatality
- Involves an individual leaving the scene without offering information, rendering aid, or ensuring that the accident was reported to authorities.
- Involves an intoxicated driver
- Involves a vehicle that was damaged to the extent that it needed to be removed by a tow truck
- Involves a commercial motor vehicle
The long form of the Florida Traffic Crash Report will contain useful information such as
- When and where the accident happened
- The descriptions of all vehicles involved
- Any names, contact information, and vehicle information of all drivers and passengers
- Names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident
- The name and badge number of the officer who is conducting the investigation
If the accident doesn’t require the use of the long form crash report, the investigating officer may use a short form or give the drivers involved an exchange of information form. The short form of the crash report will still offer valuable information, such as when and where the accident took place, names and contact information for all drivers, passengers, and witnesses and the insurance information for all involved drivers.
How to Get a Copy of the Police Report
Crash reports are usually available to all parties who were involved in the accident within one day. To receive a copy, all you need to do is provide a photo identification and a sworn statement that the information in the report will not be used for any commercial solicitation to the agency that investigated the accident.
Why You Should Have a Copy of the Police Report
A police report contains many important pieces of information. If you have sustained a serious injury in the accident, you may need this information to hold an at-fault driver liable through an insurance claim or personal injury civil lawsuit. Having a copy of the police report can provide crucial evidence supporting your case and can improve your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver.
Getting Legal Assistance if You Have Been Injured
When you have been injured in a car accident in Boca Raton, you should get the guidance of an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney to understand your rights under the law. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages, including medical costs, lost wages, repair or replacement of personal property, and pain and suffering.
At Ged Lawyers, LLP, our skilled team of personal injury lawyers in Boca Raton will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, obtain the official police report and any other evidence associated with the accident to build a case and hold the at-fault driver liable. Call us at 888-4GEDLAW (toll free), (561) 995-1966, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.