Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Florida?

Published March 29, 2019 by Englander Peebles
Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Florida?

All car accident reports in Florida become public record 60 days after the crash occurs. During that 60-day period immediately after the crash, only individuals and organizations who are specifically authorized by Florida law may access the accident report prepared by a law enforcement agency. Generally speaking, those are:

  •      The parties who were involved in the accident
  •      The parties’ legal representatives
  •      The parties’ insurance agents
  •      The Florida State Attorney’s Office
  •      Government agencies with authorization to have access
  •      Certain news media outlets with a large enough circulation
  •      Victim Service Programs.

The purpose of this rule is to protect the privacy of crash victims. It prevents them from getting numerous calls and contacts from individuals or organizations that are intent on profiting from the victims of auto accidents. It also reduces the number of frivolous or fraudulent insurance claims that may be made.

If you do not fit within one of the above categories, then you are not entitled to an accident report until 60 days have passed after the accident. Any person who tries to obtain a car accident report and is not authorized to do so is subject to a third-degree felony charge.

How Do You Look Up an Accident Report in Florida?

To look up a Florida car accident report, you will need to have a report number or the names of the individuals involved in the accident as well as the date of the accident.

Once you have the necessary car accident report number, you can visit the BuyCrash website. On this website, you can look up the accident report. If the report is not available on the BuyCrash website, you will have to go to the Police Station whose officer wrote the report.

Does a Police Report Say Who Was at Fault?

After the police are called to the scene of a crash, the officers will speak with everyone involved and will take everything into consideration before potentially choosing to issue traffic citations or to even arrest a driver. For instance, the police may arrest one of the drivers if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Even when a citation is issued or a person is arrested, for the purposes of insurance, the police actions do not necessarily determine fault in an accident.  An insurance company will likely review the police accident report. In that sense, the report may have some bearing on determining who was at fault for a crash. However, the police accident report is not the final word.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you should seek help immediately from an experienced car accident lawyer who will conduct a thorough, independent investigation of the accident. The attorney may use the accident report as merely a starting point in an investigation that looks at evidence such as:

  •      Accident scene photos
  •      Surveillance camera footage
  •      Inspection of the vehicles
  •      Witness statements
  •      Black box data
  •      Cell phone records
  •      Breath, blood or urine test results.

In addition to studying this evidence, a lawyer may consult with knowledgeable professionals in fields such as accident reconstruction. An accident reconstruction expert can use the available evidence to determine how and why an accident happened and help to identify who should be held responsible for it. The expert may also prepare a report or even animated video that shows how the crash happened.

Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You

If a negligent driver has caused serious injury to you or a loved one in Florida, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and highly dedicated personal injury attorneys of Englander Peebles can investigate your accident, assess your total damages and help you to pursue all compensation that you are due. We are strategic negotiators and sharp litigators who will always fight for the best possible outcome for you.

To learn more about how we can assist you, call or reach us online today. Our law firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Hollywood, and we represent car accident victims and their families throughout Florida. If you cannot meet at our office, we can meet at a location that is most convenient for you. Client service is always our top priority.

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At Englander Peebles, we understand the pressure people face when they are seriously hurt in an accident and are facing off against a large insurance company. As the bills mount, so does the stress. And the most frustrating part is that you can be victimized a second time if the insurance company refuses to pay in full, putting your financial future in jeopardy.

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