A police accident report is an essential part of all car accident injury claims. Knowing how to request a police report and how to understand what the report says can have a huge effect on how successful your claim will be.
Without a police report, there will be no official account of the accident. Your personal narrative of what happened could be disputed by others involved, and no one with authority will have documented a neutral viewpoint. Miami personal injury lawyers therefore always suggest that injury victims obtain a copy of their report so that they can review the official documentation.
Another important reason to review your police report is to ensure that the facts contained on it are correct. If, for instance, the officer claims on the report that you weren’t wearing corrective eyewear when you were, you may be able to dispute the official record in some cases.
For all these reasons and many more, taking a look at your police report and fully understanding it will be an important part of evidence gathering for your case.
Your official records for your crash will be available to you and other parties involved. These records can be obtained through the police department that responded to the scene of the accident.
You can always ask to review your own personal information at the scene of an accident, but the officer will rarely let you see the entire report until it is complete. Once the report is submitted, it can take 7 – 10 days or more to process and be made available. You can then make a request to the records department of whatever police department or agency made the initial report.
For accidents that happened in Miami-Dade county, you can search for your crash report online. You can also mail a request for your report or retrieve your report in person at the public counter for the Fred Taylor Building located in Doral, Florida. The building is located at the address below:
Central Records Bureau
9105 NW 25 Street
Doral, FL 33172
Note that Florida crash reports become public record after 60 days. You can find more information about obtaining a report or filing your own on the website for Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
All official accident reports in Florida will note a few common things using a checkbox form designed to be filled out rapidly and accurately.
First, the report will gather information for all drivers involved as well as their vehicles. This general information includes:
In addition to this general information, a Florida car accident report will contain the following specific information regarding the accident:
As you might imagine, the information above can already weave a narrative regarding an accident. At a glance, you can determine the location of the accident, what speed each vehicle was travelling, where the initial points of contact where made, how injured everyone involved was after the crash, whether anyone involved was under the influence, and other essential details.
On top of the generic form containing every involved person’s information, a police officer may include additional details on their report. They will attempt to capture witness statements in shorthand as well as the statements of any drivers or occupants who were within vehicles involved in the crash.
If someone had made a mistake leading up to the accident, such as running a stop sign or driving under the influence (DUI), the citation will likely be mentioned in the report.
The report will also make mention of relevant environmental factors, such as if there was a heavy rain that obscured visibility or if there was heavy traffic in the area at the time.
At their discretion, police officers may also include any useful information pertinent to the accident. They may even draw a picture of how the accident occurred, or they may note erratic behavior exhibited by anyone involved.
Some of these documents may be considered under seal for a full 60 days, while only the initial generic form for the crash report is provided to people named in the report. You can attempt to request the full report from the department of the officer assigned to the case, but if the case is under investigation those files may not be made readily available.
Your legal strategy after a car accident can hinge on your ability to have access to your full accident report. The report provides crucial evidence that cannot be replaced with a non-official eyewitness account or victim statement. While many car accident cases and claims have managed to find success without access to an official police report, those claims that do have access tend to be more straightforward.
If you are unsure how to acquire your full Florida crash report or if you want guidance with your injury claim after your crash, you can work with experienced Miami personal injury lawyers. They will be able to help you seek access to your report through all legal means available. They can also use the evidence contained within your report to help you file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim that could have a high chance at returning a fair settlement.
You can speak with our expert Miami car accident attorneys in a free consultation when you contact us today.