What to Know About Car Accident Reports in Ocala, FL
Bill Allen | August 31, 2021 | Car Accidents
Florida law has a well-structured system for reporting car accidents. After an accident, police officers will either prepare an accident report or provide you with the form to file. If the police do not respond to your accident, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) provides an online form for reporting crashes.
Here is a guide to understanding car accident reports in Ocala, FL.
Car Accident Reports Under Florida Law
Unlike most other states, Florida has a statute that establishes who must file an accident report and under what conditions.
This statute creates three categories of reporting requirements for car accidents.
Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form
The police must prepare and file the long-form crash report in five circumstances:
- The crash caused a death, injury, or complaints of pain or discomfort
- A hit-and-run crash
- A crash resulting from someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The crash rendered a vehicle inoperable
- The crash involved a commercial truck or bus
Each driver involved in the crash must provide proof of insurance to the responding officer. If the driver does not have an insurance card, the officer can issue a citation. The driver can have the citation voided if they provide proof of insurance within 24 hours after the crash.
The responding officer must file the completed long-form crash report with the FLHSMV within ten days after completing the accident investigation. The FLHSMV keeps all crash reports confidential for 60 days after the accident.
During these 60 days, the only entities that can access crash reports include:
- People involved in the crash
- Lawyers and insurers for those involved in the crash
- Law enforcement agencies
- Radio and television stations
After the 60-day period expires, any member of the public can request a copy. FLHSMV charges $10 for all reports.
Florida Traffic Crash Report, Short Form
Suppose the police respond to a car accident that does not fall into any categories requiring a long-form report. In this case, the police can either:
- Prepare and file a short-form crash report
- Provide each party with an exchange of information form
Circumstances requiring a short-form crash report rarely happen.
If the responding officer chooses to prepare a short-form crash report, they must file the report with FLHSMV. The same rules for confidentiality apply to the short-form report as the long-form report.
In all crashes to which the police do not respond, the drivers involved must report the crash using the FLHSMV website.
The crashes that fall into this category are limited. Florida law requires that you contact the police in all crashes involving an injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500.
Using a Florida Traffic Crash Report
All crashes which result in an injury should have a long-form accident report. This report includes:
- The location, date, and time of the accident
- Vehicle descriptions
- Names and addresses of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists involved
- Names and addresses of witnesses
- Name and badge number of the investigating officer
- The insurers of the parties to the crash
The investigating officer can add information about the cause of the crash, the fault of the drivers, or the citations issued.
This report provides valuable information when you pursue your claim. You will begin your injury claim with your no-fault auto insurer. Under this policy, your insurer will provide medical benefits and partial income benefits for your injuries regardless of who caused the accident.
How an Injury Lawyer Uses a Florida Crash Report
If your damages exceed your $10,000 no-fault policy limits or you suffer a permanent injury, Florida law releases you from the no-fault system. You can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.
The accident report includes all of the insurance information your lawyer needs to file a claim or lawsuit. It also includes names and contact information for witnesses to the accident.
After you suffer an injury in a car accident in Ocala, FL, make sure you contact the FLHSMV by phone or online to get a copy of your accident report. The information in the report will help you and your lawyer obtain fair compensation for your injuries.
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