If you got hurt in a Florida car accident, you will need to obtain a copy of the police accident report, officially referred to as a traffic crash report, to receive insurance benefits and protect your legal rights.
It contains information that insurance companies and lawyers use in determining how the accident happened, who was involved, and which party owes financial compensation. Here is a summary of how to get a car accident report in Florida.
Florida Car Accident Report Basics
By Florida law, anyone involved in a car accident resulting in a personal injury, fatality, or property damage totaling more than $500 must immediately report the crash to local police. Failing to do this can subject an individual to fines and other penalties. The easiest way for you to report the crash is to call 911, which prompts police and first responders to come to the scene.
Florida statutes require the police officer who responds to the scene of the accident to prepare a traffic crash report.
The police officer must complete a Long Form report, which collects a wide range of information about the crash, for incidents involving any of the following:
- Personal injury or fatality
- Hit and run
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Damage to a commercial motor vehicle
- A vehicle was towed from the scene
Short Form Report
For all other crashes, the officer must prepare a Short Form report, which gathers less information.
All Florida Accident Reports
All Florida traffic crash reports must contain the following:
- 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 vehicle in which each was a driver or a passenger
- The names and addresses of witnesses
- The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the officer investigating the crash
- The names of the insurance companies for the parties involved in the crash
Access to Florida Car Accident Reports
Police officers have 10 days from the date of the crash to complete the car accident report and file it with Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
The completed report is generally available immediately to the parties involved in the accident, their lawyers, their insurers, prosecutors, government agencies, and the press, but it must not be used for commercial solicitation of crash victims.
The public can get a car accident report in Florida 60 days after the incident.
How to Get a Car Accident Report in Florida Online
You can obtain a car accident report online at the Florida Crash Portal operated by FLHSMV. The fee for a report is $10, plus a $2 convenience fee for using the portal, and you can order up to 10 reports at once.
You will receive an email link to the reports you order and must download them within 48 hours.
How to Get a Car Accident Report in Florida by Mail
You can also obtain a Florida car accident report by mail. To do so within the first 60 days after an accident, you must fill out, sign, and notarize a Sworn Statement to Obtain Traffic Crash Report Information. Then mail it with a check or money order for the $10 per-report fee made payable to “FLHSMV” to:
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS 28
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Include a written letter if you need more space than is provided on the Sworn Statement to describe the reports you are requesting. If more than 60 days have passed since the accident, you can simply request a report in a written letter. Allow 4–6 weeks for FLHSMV to process any mailed-in request.
How to Get a Car Accident Report in Florida in Person
Within the first 60 days after an accident, you can obtain up to 10 Florida car accident reports in person at your nearest Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Station. Fill out a Sworn Statement to Obtain Traffic Crash Report Information (see link above), but wait until you get there to sign it so a certified law enforcement officer at the FHP Station can witness it.
Also, make sure to bring a check or a money order for $10 per report you plan to request, made payable to “FLHSMV.”
How Insurers and Lawyers Use Your Car Accident Report
The information collected in a car accident report serves as an important starting point for investigating and determining fault for a crash. It tells lawyers and insurance companies the parties’ basic information, the crash circumstances, and the evidence the responding police officer observed.
Sometimes, the information in the accident report alone will be sufficient to establish who owes you financial compensation for your crash-related injuries. But not always. Often, a car accident merely provides clues that direct insurance investigators and lawyers to additional evidence they need to examine.
If you suffered injuries and losses in a Florida car accident, be sure to obtain a copy of your car accident report as soon as you can. However, a police officer’s written opinion of who was at fault in a car accident is not necessarily the final word on the matter.
Contact an Attorney After Getting Your Florida Car Accident Report
A member of the team at Eltringham Law Group can often uncover additional details the officer may have overlooked that change the analysis. Contact us for a free consultation about whether you can seek compensation for the harm you suffered.