Car Accident Insider’s Guide – The Police Report
A car collision can wreck your day, merely be an inconvenience or it can change your life. All in a matter of seconds. If you suffer an injury you may be entitled to thousands of dollars from the other driver’s insurance company. If the owner of the vehicle that struck you was different from the driver, you may have claim for additional insurance benefits. Indeed, depending on the extent of your injury and damages, you may be entitled to additional money from your own insurance company – under uninsured motorists coverage.
When a crash occurs, usually law enforcement officers will respond. Whether the Orlando Police Department or the Orange County Sheriff’s Department or the Florida Highway Patrol come to the scene is governed by the location. The road, street or highway will fall within the jurisdiction of one of more of these agencies or similar agency throughout the state. Knowing the agency involved is important in order to obtain a copy of the Florida Crash Report which will be created. This report provides invaluable documentation of the incident and includes among other items the identification of the vehicles involved, the drivers, the vehicle owners and the date and time of the accident. The report will also document the weather, seat belt usage, witnesses and whether one or more drivers were given a ticket for improper operation, speeding or careless driving.
When we obtain the report, we review it carefully with our client to determine its accuracy. As we have found, despite their best efforts, police can make mistakes which make it challenging for those injured to settle their claims. Insurance companies rely heavily on what law enforcement document so it is critical to clear up any irregularities or errors as soon as possible.
Generally located on the final page, the investigating officer will generate a diagram of the surrounding location. This sketch should include the correct number of cars or trucks involved, the number of lanes of traffic and whether the road narrowed at the point of impact. If the highway was under construction or had any contributing defects, a thorough report will detail those items as well.
This area of the report will also include a narrative or statements provided by those involved and any available witnesses. Obviously it would be ideal for the investigating officer to question all drivers and all witnesses, however, that is not always possible. For example, if a driver is seriously injured or taken by emergency medical personnel to a local hospital, that driver will not be available to share his or her side of the story. Indeed, we have had clients who were transported from the scene and police accepted the version of the other driver without ever hearing from our client. Obviously, if the matter warrants it, the deputy sheriff should go to the hospital or otherwise follow up with the injured driver to hear all sides.
As you can see, these reports are extremely important to obtain as soon as they become available. While erroneous reports can create difficulties and challenges, it is important to know that whether accurate or not Florida law prohibits the introduction of any statements provided by the parties to police and prohibits the jury from ever knowing who received the ticket for causing the crash. Consequently, whether the report helps your case or hurts, you will need independent evidence to demonstrate that the other party was at fault. That is why it is critical to have a trial specialist on your side. Please contact us now so we can get started together.