If you have been seriously injured in a car accident in the state of Florida and have received an inadequate settlement offer from your own car insurance provider, it may be in your interest to reject the offer and instead file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and his or her insurer. Doing so, with the assistance of an experienced Florida auto accident attorney, may allow you to obtain substantially more compensation – the kind you need to truly account for your injuries and other losses. Because Florida is no-fault car insurance state as well as a comparative negligence state, the process of bringing suit against an at-fault driver is complex. Your injuries must be serious enough to qualify in the first place, and then your attorney must prove that the other driver was indeed at fault. With regard to the latter – proving fault – evidence is key. One of the most important pieces of evidence in a lawsuit against an at-fault driver is your auto accident police report. The purpose of this article is to explain how to obtain your auto accident police report in the state of Florida. Providing your skilled Florida car accident attorney with this document is a key step in successfully bringing suit against an at-fault driver.
An Auto Accident Police Report Contains Important Information
While an auto accident police report is not necessarily a perfect record of the circumstances surrounding the accident, it does contain a wealth of important information:
- The date, time of day, and location of the accident;
- Details of the nature of the accident, such as a diagrammatic representation of the accident scene;
- The names of all parties involved in the accident;
- The names of witness to the accident;
- Identification of both the owners and drivers of the vehicles;
- Identification of the owners of any property involved in the accident;
- A description of the driver, including age and drivers license number;
- Weather, lighting, and road conditions at the time of the accident;
- Any other relevant information.
Because the police report necessarily occurs after an accident, it may be incomplete or contain flawed information, but it is still an important document from a frequently reliable source of authority. Supplemented by witness testimony concerning the sequence of events and forensic analysis of the speed of the vehicles involved in the accidents, the police report can help piece together an accurate picture of how the accident came to happen and who was at fault. With this information in tow, your experienced Florida auto accident attorney will present evidence showing that you should be awarded financial compensation from the at-fault party.
How to Obtain Your Auto Accident Police Report
To obtain your auto accident police report, you need to check with the relevant federal, state, and municipal governments. One or more of these agencies will possess the relevant police report, depending on where in the state of Florida the accident occurred. In some instances, it will be easy to obtain the police report – when, for example, the report is simply a matter of public record. Other times, it may be more difficult to obtain a police report – for example, if a criminal prosecution of the at-fault driver is happening at the same time you are bringing a civil lawsuit. In times like these, you can rely on your dedicated Florida auto accident attorney to compel disclosure of the police report.
It is Important to Present a Police Report in Florida
There are two reasons why it is important to present evidence like a police report when suing an at-fault driver for damages in the state of Florida.
In addition to your medical records, a police report may include a description of the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident. Because Florida is a “no-fault” state with regard to car insurance, you must prove that your injuries are sufficiently serious as to justify leaving the no-fault system. Only by leaving the no-fault system can you reject the settlement offer made by your own car insurance provider and go after the at-fault driver and his or her insurer for an adequate settlement.
Florida is a comparative negligence state. Negligence is the breach of a duty owed to another that results in damages. In a comparative negligence state, a court assigns percentages of blame – or negligence – in awarding damages stemming from a negligence (e.g. car accident) lawsuit. What this means is that you need to present evidence that the other driver was at fault, and that you were not at fault. If any room for doubt is left, your damages award may be reduced by any percentage that the court deems you were at fault.
As you can tell, no-fault and comparative negligence laws are complex. For this reason, it is imperative that you rely on the skill of an experienced Florida auto accident attorney.