Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Ocala, FL?
Bill Allen | December 23, 2021 | Car Accidents
One of the strongest pieces of evidence after a car accident is an official police report.
These reports contain a neutral, third-party account of witness and driver statements, along with an officer’s own visual impression of the accident.
Why Are Car Accident Reports Important?
In almost every car accident, there are two questions that are relevant:
- What are the damages in the accident?
- Who caused the accident?
If the damages are large enough, insurers will require evidence to determine who caused the accident and whose insurer will cover what.
A police report not only serves as an official account for an insurance adjuster, but the report can also serve as official proof if a lawsuit ensues.
What Are the Damages in the Accident?
The first question relates to whether the incident will require resources to make the parties whole again. Think of a minor fender-bender as an example. An accident with minimal damage to the car and no injuries to the drivers or passengers can mean that both parties can walk away mostly unharmed.
As damages increase, the likelihood of either party remaining unscathed financially or physically substantially decreases.
Damages include physical impacts, like damage to the vehicles or surrounding property, as well as injuries and the medical costs that arise from those injuries.
Who Caused the Accident?
If the damages are substantial, the question becomes who will pay for the damages.
Florida is a no-fault state. In the case of an accident, an individual party files a claim with their own insurer. This differs from a fault-based state, in which victims would file a claim with the insurance provider for the at-fault driver.
In a no-fault state like Florida, each individual’s insurer will compensate their own covered driver based on their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
Even in a no-fault state, fault becomes an issue if the damages rise above the insurer’s PIP coverage limits. This can occur when:
- An insurer disputes the coverage under the PIP insurance plan
- Injuries were catastrophic
- Insurance coverage is fact-dependent, as in a Lyft accident, Uber accident, or an accident with commercial vehicles
- The accident was a hit and run
- One driver was an uninsured motorist
For fault-based claims, it’s always a good idea to seek out the aid of a skilled personal injury attorney.
Are Car Accident Reports Immediately Made Public?
Florida law requires a traffic crash report to be submitted within 10 days if there are any injuries in the accident. The same report is required if there is more than $500 worth of property damages.
When filed, Florida law requires the report to be restricted to the public for 60 days after the accident.
After 60 days, the records will become accessible to the general public. The purpose of the 60-day restriction period is to prevent third-party solicitors from reaching out and offering their services in relation to the accident.
I Was in an Accident. Do I Have Access to a Report Within 60 Days?
Some parties are not required to wait until the statutory 60-day time window expires before they can access a car accident record. Parties that were involved in the accident, their legal representatives, their insurance agencies, and official authorities have immediate access.
Where Can I Go to Access a Car Accident Report?
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department set up a Florida Official Crash Portal where public records can be requested. Note that a statutory fee of $10 and a transaction fee of $2 will be required for each report requested.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala car accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have two convenient locations in North Central Florida: