Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Florida?
Gregg Hollander | June 2, 2021 | Car Accidents
Florida law requires that drivers stop when they are involved in a traffic accident. Moreover, drivers must report car accidents that cause a person’s death, bodily injury, or $500 or more of property damage.
The easiest way to report a car crash in Florida is to call 911 from the accident scene. The emergency operator will dispatch law enforcement officers and emergency medical services. The police officers will investigate the accident and file a crash report.
Are Florida Crash Reports Available to the Public?
According to Florida Statute §316.066, motor vehicle accident reports become public record 60 days after the accident.
Within the first 60 days after a car accident, crash reports are only available to certain parties, such as:
- The people involved in the car crash and their legal representatives
- Victim service programs
- Licensed insurance agents who provide insurance coverage for the people or vehicles involved in the collision
- The Department of Transportation
- Persons under contract with an insurance company to provide claims information
- An insurance company that accepted an insurance application from one of the accident victims
- Prosecutors’ offices
- County traffic operations
- Newspapers that publish legal notices
- Radio and television stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission
Car accident reports are kept private for the first couple of months following an accident to allow victims time to seek medical care. They also have time to seek legal advice about a car accident claim. If the details of the car crash were public record, accident victims might be flooded with unwanted calls from parties who want to represent the victims.
Keeping the details from becoming public record immediately after the accident helps protect victims from people who might take advantage of them.
How Do I Request a Copy of My Car Accident Report in Florida?
Copies of car accident reports can be obtained in person or through the mail. You must complete and submit the required form with the fee for the report.
Copies of accident reports can be obtained at the FHP Troop Station closest to the car accident site. You can also mail your request for a copy of the crash report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The request must be sent to the attention of Crash Records at 2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS28, Tallahassee, FL 32339.
Why Do You Need a Copy of Your Car Accident Report?
A car accident report has information that can be helpful when you file an insurance or personal injury claim.
Information you might need as you pursue compensation for your injuries includes:
- The names and contact information of the parties involved in the accident, including drivers and passengers
- The date, time, and location of the crash
- Whether the police officer charged either driver with a traffic offense
- A diagram of the accident scene drawn by the police officer
- A description of the damages to each vehicle
- Whether the police officer designated either party as being at fault for the accident
- Statements made to the police officer by the parties involved in the crash or eyewitnesses
- The weather and road conditions
In some cases, the insurance company may agree to accept fault based on the findings in the accident report. However, that is not always the case. The insurance company may dispute fault. If so, seeking legal advice is generally in your best interest.
The insurance company may blame you for causing the car crash to avoid paying the total value of your claim. Under Florida comparative fault laws, your compensation could be reduced by the percentage of fault you have for causing the crash.
Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Damages
When another driver causes an automobile accident, that driver could be liable for the damages caused by the crash. However, the victim must sustain serious injuries before Florida’s no-fault insurance laws permit the victim to sue for damages.
Damages that a victim could recover for serious injuries include:
- The cost of medical treatment and care
- Loss of income and benefits
- The cost of personal care
- A decrease in earning potential
- Mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering
- Disabilities and impairments
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Decreased quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
An insurance company may not tell you that you could be entitled to compensation for damages. Check with a car accident lawyer to determine whether you have a legal claim against the at-fault driver after a Florida car accident.