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Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Florida?
According to state law, car accident reports are public record 60 days after the date of a crash. Prior to that time, only certain people or entities with a statutorily acceptable reason for obtaining the report can access this information in Florida. Once a car accident report becomes a matter of public record, anyone can obtain a copy.
If you were in a car crash—especially if you sustained injuries—obtaining a copy of your crash report immediately will help you ensure that the information it contains is accurate. Any errors in the crash report could potentially interfere with your ability to pursue compensation.
For help understanding when car accident reports are public record—and assistance obtaining yours—contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine. Call 800-747-3733 today to schedule a free case evaluation with a car accident lawyer.
Why Does Florida Restrict Car Accident Reports for 60 Days?
Florida does not make car accident reports available to the public until 60 days after a crash to discourage the filing of frivolous or fraudulent insurance claims. The state also keeps vehicle accident reports out of the public record to protect the privacy of victims.
Previously, accident victims received multiple unsolicited calls and even home visits from individuals or entities that could profit from their accident. This included doctors, chiropractors, body and car repair shops, and unethical members of the legal community.
Who Can Review Non-Public Record Car Accident Reports?
Law enforcement agencies and personnel can access a car crash report at any time for the purpose of carrying out their job functions. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) also permits people involved in a crash, as well as their lawyers, to obtain a copy of the report.
Local, county, state, and federal agencies can access crash reports if they have legal authorization to do so. Insurance companies can obtain a copy if the crash involved one of their policyholders, as can third-party underwriters and claims administrators.
Licensed media members and entities can obtain copies of the report, as can any publication that regularly publishes legal notices. Finally, legally authorized Victims Services Programs can obtain a copy of a car crash report prior to the 60-day protection period.
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How Can I Obtain a Car Accident Report?
If 60 days have not yet passed since your crash occurred, you must submit a written request to obtain a copy of the report. You must also submit a sworn statement substantiating your eligibility and provide a copy of your identification.
To request a copy of a car accident report, you must have the report number. Once you have the car accident report number, you submit it to the BuyCrash database. Once the database locates the report, you will receive instructions on how to place your order. BuyCrash requires payment for any Florida car crash reports you request.
This database will also allow you to search Florida car accident reports using a vehicle identification number (VIN), the date of the crash, or the last name of anyone involved in the crash.
What Happens If a Non-Authorized Person Obtains a Car Accident Report?
Any person or entity that unlawfully obtains or attempts to obtain a car accident report is subject to third-degree felony charges. The same penalty will apply to anyone who discloses protected personal information.
What Personal Information Do U.S. and Florida Laws Protect?
Federal law requires that states protect specific types of information from public access. That information includes:
- Social Security numbers;
- Driver’s license numbers;
- State identification numbers;
- Telephone numbers;
- Medical information; and
Florida also protects emergency contact information included in your record.
Other than the information listed above, the public may obtain all driver-related information. This includes driver’s license status, tickets and moving violations, and accident reports.
How Can a Car Accident Report Benefit My Auto Injury Case?
A full report of your crash can help us build your case for a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. More important, however, is how any errors in the accident report can harm your attempt to obtain a financial settlement from the at-fault party or their insurance company.
For example, if the report indicates that you caused or contributed to the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may deny your claim. After obtaining the report, our attorneys can identify and address any potential errors or begin to assemble evidence that reflects the correct facts of the accident.
How Can I Speak With a Lawyer About My Case?
If you need to obtain or dispute a car accident report, our attorneys can help. Contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free consultation.