Car Crash

Are Car Accident Reports Public Record?

If you sustained injuries following a Florida car accident, you need to seek medical attention urgently. However, you also need to move with speed and obtain your police crash report. This car accident report will help your Miami personal injury attorney defend your rights and seek compensation for your injuries.

The Florida Statutes Section 316.066 states that car accident reports can only become public after 60 days have elapsed since the date of the crash. During these 60 days, only a few people can access the report. Once the report is made public, anyone can obtain it.

Why is Access to Crash Reports Restricted for 60 Days?

The period following an accident is often difficult and strenuous for the victims. And one of the reasons the state restricts access to this report is to protect the victims’ privacy. Previously, doctors, chiropractors, car rental services, etc. could make unsolicited calls to the victims and even make home visits. Currently, this law protects the victims from people who could try to profit from the victims’ accidents.

Similarly, the state keeps these records private to discourage the filing of frivolous and falsified insurance claims.

What if a Non-Authorized Person Accesses a Crash Accident Report?

Illegally obtaining or attempting to obtain a car accident report is a crime in Florida. Such acts attract third-degree felony charges. Anyone who discloses protected personal information contained in the report will also face the same penalty.

What Information Could Be Found in an Accident Report?

Car accident reports contain a summary of what occurred in the collision, including the facts of the accident and the investigating officer’s opinions. The report will include this type of information:

  • Approximation of the date and time of the accident
  • Where the accident occurred
  • Contact information of the parties involved
  • A description of the vehicles involved
  • Location of damages to the cars
  • Diagram of the accident
  • Brief notes on who sought medical attention
  • A description of the road conditions at the time of the accident

Can a Car Accident Report Help My Injury Claim?

If you have recently been in a car accident—and sustained injuries—getting access to your crash report immediately helps you ensure the accuracy of that information. If your car accident report has any errors, it could potentially hurt your chances to pursue your deserved compensation.

For instance, if the report indicates that you caused or partially contributed to the accident, the insurance company might use that to deny you compensation. Once your Miami car accident attorneys access the report, they can identify and correct any errors and gather evidence that will reveal the facts of the accident.

Accessing a full crash report can help your car accident lawyer in Miami to build a strong personal injury case or file an insurance claim. Since the report will be used to determine how much you should be compensated, accuracy will ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Who Can Access Crash Reports?

While a report takes 60 days to be made public, it is not always available immediately, even to authorized persons. It can take up to 10 days for this report to become available to authorized people.

Once the report is published, it is unrestricted to certain people like yourself, people involved in your claim, and the Florida officers in charge of investigations. Likewise, parties that are outlined in the statute can also access the report once it becomes available. They include:

  • Legal representatives of each party
  • Licensed insurance agent(s) of each party
  • Each party’s insurer
  • Law enforcers
  • Florida Department of Transportation
  • Prosecutorial authorities

Radio and TV stations licensed by the FDC and newspapers that qualify to publish legal notices also have access to car accident reports before they are made public. These will usually be news organizations that report on local accidents and traffic in the region.

How Do I Look Up an Accident Report in Florida?

If your accident report is yet to be made public, you have to submit a written request to access your car accident report. You will also be required to provide your identification and a sworn statement validating your eligibility.

You will need to have a report number or the accident victims’ names to perform a search. Nowadays you can obtain the report online, in person, or via mail. But the easiest way to access it is online.

Once you are ready with your accident report number, visit the BuyCrash website, and submit your report number at a $10 fee. If available, you will access the report immediately and be required to download it within 48 hours. If you can’t access it on the website, you will have to go to the police station that did the report.

Does a Police Report Determine Who Was at Fault?

Once an accident has occurred, law enforcement officers are often called to a crash scene, and they will talk to everyone involved before they can issue traffic citations or make any arrests. Some officers will also include who they think was at fault.

For example, if one driver was driving under the influence and collided with another driver, the officer may record this and say that a DUI driver was responsible for the accident. However, this doesn’t automatically assign fault, as more investigations after the accident will likely be conducted.

A Legal Representative to Advise You

Your experienced accident attorney is an asset to your case and will conduct thorough investigations of what happened. The car accident report will be used as a starting point. And if it has any errors, your lawyer will help you challenge it.

If you recently sustained injuries in a Florida accident, it’s best to walk with a qualified legal representative to help you understand your legal options. Call us at (305) 998-6953 to schedule a free consultation.