You have already done your part. You avoided drinking when you knew you would be driving yourself home, or you assigned a designated driver or booked an Uber to get home when you knew you had already had too much to drink. You followed all of the traffic signs and drove within the speed limit. Despite all this, you still got into a car accident and managed to get injured in the process. What do you do now?
Regardless of the type of crash you were in, you must stay at the scene and help out in any way you can for as long as you are within the bounds of safety. Fleeing the scene of the accident might cause you to get penalized for a hit and run. Section 316.06 of the Florida Statues requires you to call the local authorities and 911 if your accident falls into any of the following categories:
- A crash with injuries;
- A crash with a fatality;
- A hit-and-run crash;
- A DUI crash;
- A crash that requires a wrecker to remove the vehicle;
- A crash with a commercial motor vehicle; or
- A crash where apparent damage is at least $500.00.
What is a Police Report?
A police report is a formal document that contains an investigating police officer’s account of the accident. This could include factors that could indicate that there was negligence. As mentioned, this was prepared by the police officer investigating at the scene of the accident.
This document, while not admissible in court in a civil trial for damages, can still be an essential piece of evidence in other proceedings, such as when you are claiming insurance proceeds for your accident. Your insurance provider will go through every detail in your police report and review it from there to determine if you are entitled to your claim and how much your claim is worth.
How To Read the Details of a Car Accident Police Report?
Filing a police report might seem like a daunting task for you, and reading a police report might be confusing for you, but we are here to break it down for you to simplify how to read a police report. Each police report in Florida contains the same things and is divided into the following sections:
Event Section – There is a checkbox at the top of the event section where you indicate the type of form you are accomplishing, whether it is a long form, short form, or an update. In the event of an accident leading to death or injury, you must check the long form. The event section also contains the date and approximate time of the crash, the location where the crash occurred, the crash report number, and the case number. Next, you will find the crash information section where a list of contributing factors is indicated, such as light and weather conditions and road surface conditions. This section is especially important if parties to the accident are attributing fault to one another. Witnesses, if there are any, are written down in the event section together with their contact information. Lastly, non-vehicle property damage is noted in the event section.
Section on Vehicles – All vehicles involved in a particular accident will have their own section in the accident report, and this portion will include details such as the vehicle’s registration number and whether or not it is a vehicle used for commercial purposes. This section will indicate what the vehicle was doing at the time of the accident, whether it was parked, in transit, or at work. In the vehicle section, the investigating officer will also take down the identifying information of the vehicle, such as its make, model, style, and color. This section should also contain the vehicle’s contact information as well as detailed information as to how the vehicle was involved in the accident. The citation that the vehicle operator received, if any, will also be included in this section.
Person Section – As mentioned above, each person who was involved in the accident will have their own section in the police report. The person section will include their names, contact information, role in the crash, and vehicle number. In this section, the investigating police officer will also indicate if they suspect the parties to the accident of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.
Narrative Section – Under the narrative section, the investigating officer at the scene of the accident will narrate what happened in the accident. The officer must write the narrative in a detailed and chronological manner. It must include details on what happened before the crash, during the crash, and what took place after the crash. This section will also include the investigating or reporting officer’s details such as his name, rank, identification number, and the agency to which he belongs.
Diagram Section – The final part of the police section is the diagram section, wherein the investigating police officer illustrates the details of the car accident. Here, they will note the location where the accident took place (including the specific street or road names), as much physical evidence as can be gathered (including skid marks, potholes, stagnant water), and the positions the vehicles were in before, during, and after the accident.
Call an Auto Accident Lawyer in Fort Walton Beach
In case you don’t know or you don’t understand how to read the details of a police report and you need help with dealing with the trauma of a car accident, a lawyer can help you. While a police report may not be admissible in court for a civil action, it can certainly be used in other actions. For example, when you make a claim with your insurance provider for medical bills for injuries sustained in the accident or for the repair costs of the damage to your vehicle.
This is why it is so important to learn how to read a police report, especially after a car accident, because you need to know that all the important details are there and that the details are truthful.
Understandably, reading a police report can be quite confusing, especially when your mind is already filled with trauma from the accident, makes you don't want to make a police report at all. A police report is repetitive in the way it details what happened before, during, and after the accident. It forces you to live and relive what happened in the accident.
You do not have to go through that alone, as you can have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers and a dedicated team of legal staff with years of experience in reading details of police reports. We can help lighten the load of a traumatic car accident. Here at Browning Law Firm, we would be more than willing to help. Call us now for a free consult, and we can help you read through a police report and explain it to you so you will be able to understand.