Negligence is a leading cause of auto accidents in Winter Haven, FL. These types of accidents often result in severe, even fatal personal injuries, as well as extensive property damage. Victims can seek compensation for their accident-related injuries by filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
In order to obtain this compensation, you’ll first have to prove that the accident actually resulted from the negligent actions of the at-fault driver. Photos of the crash scene and eyewitness accounts can help support your case. However, some of the most important pieces of evidence will probably be contained within the official police report filed immediately following the accident.
Does Florida Law Require a Police Report after an Accident?
A police report is an official version of the investigation conducted by the law enforcement officer called to the scene of an accident.
In Florida, a police report must be filed after most types of auto accidents. State law requires any driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or at least $500 in vehicle or property damage to immediately give notice of the crash to the local police department.
Depending on the circumstances, the investigating officer will complete a short-form or long-form police report. Long-form police reports must be completed for auto accidents that:
- Resulted in death of, personal injury to, or any indication of pain or discomfort by any of the parties involved in the accident;
- Involved a violation of s. 316.061(1) (leaving the scene of an accident) or s. 316.193 (driving under the influence);
- Rendered a vehicle inoperable to a degree that a wrecker was required to remove it from the scene of the crash; or
- Involved a commercial motor vehicle.
Short-form reports are completed for minor accidents that don’t result in injury or major property damage. The investigating officer must complete and submit their accident report within 10 days of an accident.
What’s in a Police Report?
Both long and short-form police reports contain the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the crash.
- A description of the vehicles involved.
- The names and addresses of the parties involved, including all drivers and passengers, and the identification of the vehicle in which each was a driver or a passenger.
- The names and addresses of any witnesses.
- The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the officer investigating the crash.
- The names of the insurance companies for the respective parties involved in the crash.
In Florida, police accident reports are public records. Any party with an interest in the accident can obtain a copy, including legal counsel, insurance agents, law enforcement, the media, etc. However, since these reports contain various kinds of personal information, they are exempt from public disclosure until 60 days after the filing date.
How Does a Police Report Help a Winter Haven Car Accident Claim?
You may be asking yourself, “Do I need a police report for a Winter Haven car accident claim?” No, you don’t need a police report. However, without a report, you may have a hard time establishing your claim that the other driver was responsible for your injuries.
A police report is an objective account of an accident made by a law enforcement professional trained in investigating accident scenes. Insurance adjusters often find it difficult to dispute the facts contained in the report. The information a police report contains can be critical in a personal injury claim, such as weather conditions, the names of witnesses, and other relevant details.
In addition, a police report could help if you shared some liability for the accident. The police report will help a judge more accurately determine your percentage of responsibility for the accident. This can have a big impact on the total amount of compensation you can collect for your injuries.
What if the Police Don’t Show Up?
If the police don’t show up at the scene of your accident, you are required by law to file a report yourself. Section 316.065 of the Florida Statutes requires drivers to immediately report any collision involving bodily injury, death, or property damage of at least $500 to the local police station, sheriff’s office, or a Florida Highway Patrol station or office. Violations of this statute are considered noncriminal traffic infractions.
Tania Rivas Knows the Value of a Police Report in a Winter Haven Accident Injury Claim
A police report by itself isn’t enough to decide a personal injury claim. It takes a skilled attorney and negotiator to utilize the information contained in a police report to prove your case and get the total compensation for their clients. In Winter Haven, that attorney is Tania Rivas.
Winter Haven accident injury attorney Tania Rivas has represented clients in a wide range of automobile accidents. Her expertise and dedication have enabled her to recover millions in settlements for her clients.
If you’ve been injured in a Winter Haven auto accident that resulted from the negligent actions of another driver, contact Rivas Law Group without delay. You can contact us through our website or call us at (877) 299-5539 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Winter Haven personal injury lawyer. Don’t forget to bring your police report!