When you suffer a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, one of the first things you should do is report the crash. If law officers arrive on the scene of the accident, you will be asked to give a statement as a party involved in the crash. It is important to narrate your version of the event, based on facts, and avoid blaming anyone at this point. The police report is a vital part of any crash investigation.
When police officers or law officers from another agency reach a crash site, they will usually file a report on their own. In some cases, law officers may not be able to reach the scene in time, or may otherwise not file a report. When this happens, you can file the report on your own which is usually possible online. You must file this report within 10 days of the crash.
Importance of a Police Report
A police report is of vital importance for a number of reasons. The report is often used by the insurer to get a neutral view of how the accident occurred. The insurer may also use the report to determine whether or not your narrated version of the crash is backed by the police report. If it is, your odds of receiving damages are higher. If the facts of the police report contradict your version, the insurer may reject your claim or argue for a lower amount of damages.
Determining Who Filed the Police Report
Before you can try to obtain a police report of your crash, you need to know who filed the report in the first place. It depends on which agency reached the scene of the crash and had priority jurisdiction in the area. Depending on the location of your Fort Lauderdale crash, the report may be filed by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, or the Florida Highway Patrol.
Obtaining the Police Report
As per Florida laws, accident reports remain confidential for the first 60 days following the crash. If you want to obtain a report during this period, you must provide a signed affidavit which shows that you were involved in the incident and entitled to the report.
The procedure for obtaining a crash report from each of the entities mentioned above is slightly different. So you must know which agency filed the report before you start efforts to obtain one. Here’s a brief look at how to obtain a crash report from each of these agencies.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department
You can consult the FLPD’s Records Unit for crash reports. When you are seeking a report within 60 days of the crash, you must submit the Crash Report Affidavit when applying for the report. FLPD charges a nominal fee of 15 cents per single-sided copy, 20 cents per double-sided copy, and $1 per certified page.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office
BCSO maintains its own record of accident reports. You can access and apply for these reports through the official BCSO records page.
Florida Highway Patrol
All crash reports filed by FHP are accessible on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) website. You can also use this link to report a traffic crash. A fee of $10 per report applies to the reports you purchase through the portal. It is possible to request reports via mail or in-person as well.
When Must You File a Report?
You are legally required to file an accident report in almost all crashes. More specifically, if a crash involves injuries, a hit-and-run driver, a drunk driver, heavy damage to a vehicle, or a commercial vehicle, the accident must be reported. As a general rule of thumb, it is always safer and convenient to file the report in any case.
Hiring a Reliable Car Accident Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If you have suffered a car accident in Fort Lauderdale and want legal help, our lawyers at Englander Peebles can help you. Filing a crash report or obtaining one may appear like a complicated process. Even more so is the process of negotiating with the insurer to pay up for your losses.
This is precisely where our legal advice and help can go a long way towards securing the damages you deserve. We help you get a police report and use it to support your damages claim. We also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to get you the best possible deal. Contact us today to discuss your claim with us.