If you have been in a car crash, you have a legal obligation to file an accident report. Let's take a closer look at this process and explore why Jacksonville accident reports are crucial when it comes to insurance claims and litigation.
What Are Jacksonville Accident Reports?
The purpose of an accident report is to establish an official record of the circumstances surrounding an accident. This document shows who was present, where and when the accident took place, and how it happened.
Under Florida's no-fault rule, drivers rely on their personal injury protection (PIP) policy to cover medical bills and property damage. Tort law allows drivers to seek compensation from the other parties involved if their injuries meet a certain threshold.
In the context of insurance claims and tort cases, Jacksonville accident reports show causation between the crash and the injuries or property damage.
These reports can also provide important clues about each party's liability. Florida recently adopted a tort reform that requires a liability threshold of less than 50% to qualify for tort damages. A detailed accident report is crucial for recreating the accident and understanding how the different parties share liability.
How and When Are They Generated?
The process for generating an accident report varies based on the severity of the accident. Under Florida Statute 316.065, the parties involved must immediately call law enforcement and report the crash if there are injuries, a fatality, over $500 in property damage, a hit-and-run, or a DUI situation.
If you call 911 or contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, an officer will come to the scene of the accident and fill out an accident report. You can then download a copy of this report via Florida's crash portal for a fee.
For minor accidents that don't warrant calling law enforcement, you have up to 10 days to self-report the accident on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' website.
Deciphering the Report: Key Sections to Understand
What's in a Jacksonville crash report? Here are the different sections you'll find in this document:
- Details about the crash. The form records the date, time, and location of the accident. This information is proof that the accident happened.
- Drivers. Next, you'll find a section with the names and contact information of the drivers involved. This section will help you, your insurance provider, or your attorney get in touch with the other parties if needed.
- Passengers. The form also records the names and contact information of any passengers involved in the crash. This section clarifies the role each party played in the accident.
- Insurance information. Your crash report will include the name of each driver's insurer, along with a policy number.
- Witnesses. If anyone saw the accident, the crash report will record their names and contact information. Insurance adjusters and attorneys can later contact witnesses to get testimonies.
- Space for comments. The last section of the form allows you to describe what happened. Recording as many details as possible can help answer questions about liability.
Utilizing Reports in Legal and Insurance Processes
In the context of insurance claims or legal cases, an accident report establishes proof that the accident happened. It also proves that the people cited in a lawsuit or insurance claim were present.
The form includes the name of the police officer who was present at the scene. Your attorney can use this information to ask this officer to testify if your case goes to court. The same applies to the witnesses listed on the form.
From a legal point of view, an accident report is a key document in establishing causation. It can help prove that the accident was the direct cause of the injuries you sustained.
The comment section can also help establish liability. If you document what you were doing at the time of the accident and explain how another party caused or contributed to the crash, it will be easier for a lawyer or insurance adjuster to determine who is liable.
Unfortunately, accident reports don't always paint a clear picture of what happened. Even if you followed all the requirements to file your accident report, it's best to get help from an attorney.
Your attorney can help you obtain a report filed by law enforcement and request corrections if there are mistakes in the report. Your legal representative can also work with other elements, such as witness testimonies or medical records, to confirm or invalidate the accident report.
Review Your Accident Report With an Attorney
A Jacksonville accident report is a key document you'll need when filing a PIP claim or seeking additional damages in court. Your report can go a long way in establishing causation and helping establish liability.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate the post-accident process. They can provide guidance regarding the reporting process or use an existing accident report to strengthen your insurance or legal claim and help you achieve the best outcome possible.
Do you need help understanding your accident report? Accident.com can match you with a Jacksonville car accident lawyer.