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Are Car Accident Reports Public Records?

The first step in making a claim for car accident injuries or property damage in Fort Lauderdale is to get a full copy of the crash report.  Most South Florida police departments will tell you the report will be available to the persons involved in the crash within 5-7 days, although that varies greatly from department to department.  Sometimes it can take two weeks to obtain the full crash report, or in the event of a crime (DUI) or a death, it can take even longer.  Some police departments will make your full crash report available within a couple of days following your accident. However, your crash report is not considered a public record during the weeks following the accident.

Florida Statute §316.066 titled “Written Reports of Crashes” requires that the complete copy of a car accident crash report be submitted to the investigating police department within ten (10) days of the accident.  This statute also says that any crash report that contains the name, home or work phone number, or other personal information regarding any of the persons involved in the accident is “confidential” and exempt from a public records request for sixty (60) days after the accident.

There is an exception to this rule so that the following people can get the report before the 60-day period is up:

  1. The persons involved in the crash or their attorneys
  2. The person’s insurance agents
  3. State Attorney’s Office
  4. Department of Transportation
  5. Radio and Television stations
  6. Newspapers

It is a felony for any person not mentioned above to obtain a car accident crash report before the 60-day period expires.  This means that your crash report is not a public record for the 60 days following your accident.

However, it is not uncommon for you to immediately begin receiving calls from unscrupulous attorneys and doctors who have illegally obtained your crash report.  We have heard from many clients that these calls will start within an hour or so after your car accident occurs.  There are many persons you may not even be aware of that have access to your crash information – EMS and hospital emergency personnel, tow truck drivers, tow yards, car rental agencies, and repair facilities – and will try to use that information to their benefit despite it being illegal.

If you get a call from a person – an attorney, towing facility, doctor’s office, or car repair facility – following your car accident, know that the person obtained your information illegally unless the call comes to you more than 60 days after your accident.  They may not even have a copy of your crash report but have just been given your contact information from someone with knowledge about the accident.  That is also illegal

For help in obtaining your car accident crash report or any questions you may have about your car accident, please contact the lawyers at Maus Law Firm for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim.


Client Testimonial

"After my car accident, the Maus law firm represented me. Mr. Maus and his entire staff are absolutely amazing! They answered all of my questions and concerns right away. They guided me step by step throughout the entire process. Mr. Maus got me the maximum settlement for my case. Very reliable and trustworthy. I highly recommend the Maus law firm!"

Posted By: Carol Austin

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