Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in St. Petersburg, FL?
January 16, 2023 | Winters & Yonker, P.A. | Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident in St. Petersburg, Florida, you’re probably wondering about your next steps. Do you have to report it? Did the St. Petersburg police officer at the scene file a police report? Do you need to give your insurance company a copy of the crash report?
The Importance of Your Car Accident Report
If you’re confused, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to navigate the insurance process after a car crash, including filing an insurance claim and trying to ensure that your settlement is enough to cover all your financial losses.
The car accident report is one of the key pieces of evidence your car crash lawyer will use if the other party tries to deny or minimize your claim. It contains all the information about your accident, including the date, time, location, who was involved, and any witnesses, as well as the road conditions, such as weather, traffic, and construction.
Finally, the responding police officer has a space to write a narrative of how the crash occurred — for example, whether speeding or distracted driving was involved. While this account is not always admissible in court, it can go a long way toward proving fault.
You Are Required To Report a Car Accident in St. Petersburg
Florida law requires you to report a car accident within ten days of its occurrence under certain circumstances, such as if anyone was injured or if there was property damage of more than $500.
If you called 911, the police officer that responded will fill out and file the report. However, if you didn’t call the police, you will have to file the report with the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred.
Once the accident is reported, only authorized parties can access it. These parties include the people involved, the responding police officer and their police department, and all insurance companies and lawyers involved. The accident report is restricted to these parties for 60 days but becomes public record accessible to anyone on day 61.
Why Are Florida Car Accident Reports Restricted from Being Public for 60 Days?
Florida law restricts car accident reports from being public record for 60 days to protect the parties involved from solicitation.
Prior to the enactment of this law, car wreck victims received phone calls and emails from potential service providers, such as physicians, chiropractors, auto body shops, car dealerships, and anyone who may have been able to profit from the victim’s misfortune and loss. The restriction protects your privacy.
How Can You Get a Copy of Your Florida Car Accident Report?
If you have been involved in a car accident in St. Petersburg, you usually have to wait at least ten days after the accident to access the report. Then, you may submit a request for the report through the website of the county where the accident happened.
Alternatively, you can use Florida’s Crash Portal, which charges $10 for the report plus a convenience fee for the service. You can download the document immediately through an emailed link that is valid for 24 hours.
You can also submit a mail-in request to the county clerk’s office in the county where the accident occurred. It takes about four to six weeks to receive your report. Include a request letter and a check or money order for the report.
Some traffic divisions also permit those involved in the accident to request a copy of the accident report in person. This usually costs about $15, depending on the location.
Whichever way you choose to obtain the report, you must wait ten days. If you’re getting the report before day 61, you have to complete a sworn statement to verify that you are an eligible party.
An Accident Report Is Critical After a Car Wreck in St. Petersburg, FL
Your St. Petersburg car accident lawyer will likely be able to get a copy of the car accident report to build your case against the at-fault party. However, many people also wish to have a copy of the document for their own records and for their insurance company.
Contact the Law Firm of Winters & Yonker, P.A. for Help Today
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with a Car Accident lawyer in St. Petersburg today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.