Using Police Reports After an Accident
The aftermath of a serious car accident is often a confusing and stressful time. If you have been hurt, your primary focus should be on seeking medical attention. However, it is also important to contact the police after an accident to ensure that proper documentation is prepared for insurance purposes, as well as any other legal issues that may arise. The Miami car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon assist individuals in many South Florida cities with collecting police reports and other forms of evidence as they build a claim. These reports are useful in figuring out what led to an accident, as well as a valuable negotiation tool if legal action proves necessary.Obtaining and Utilizing Police Reports
If a car accident results in any injuries or significant property damage, you should contact the local police department as soon as possible after receiving medical attention. After filing a police report, victims who have been involved in a crash can obtain a copy of the report, sometimes for a small fee. Insurance companies often base their initial determinations regarding fault and damages on which party is cited as responsible in a police report.
Under Florida law, police reports are not admissible in civil proceedings for a personal injury claim. However, these reports may be very useful when negotiating with various defendants prior to litigation. For instance, during settlement discussions with insurance carriers or an opposing party, police reports may be used to provide insights on key facts related to the incident, such as weather conditions, the location of the accident, and the speed at which events unfolded. Police reports also include names or telephone numbers of witnesses at the scene who may need to be contacted as verification of what happened in an accident.
The police report contains a preliminary assessment of fault, based on the responding officer’s observations. This assessment is often a determination of who is thought to have violated any traffic rules or whose actions caused the collision. Although this is not always the case, often the driver who is issued a citation is found ultimately at fault. Reports can also be amended in circumstances in which they are found to be inaccurate. Facts that are erroneous are amended rather simply, but altering determinations of fault or another disputed aspect of the report may prove more challenging. Having the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney who can help you decipher the useful parts of a police report when dealing with insurance or other kinds of claims is important.
Evidence and statements included in police reports can help form the basis of a negligence claim for victims who need compensation to cover the damages sustained in a car accident. Negligence is established by showing that a defendant breached his or her duty of reasonable care, causing injuries that resulted in quantifiable damages. A plaintiff and his or her attorney can examine and use information in a police report to show that a defendant acted unreasonably and negligently caused an accident. Any violation of a traffic rule or other basis for a citation may be valuable evidence because this generally will be deemed a breach of the duty of care that all motorists owe to those around them.
Once a breach has been established, an accident victim will focus on proving the elements of causation and damages. Causation requires that the crash was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s careless conduct, such that it probably would not have happened otherwise. Damages must be reasonably quantifiable but can be somewhat subjective. They may cover economic losses such as medical bills and lost income, in addition to non-economic forms of harm like pain and suffering.Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Miami
People who sustain serious injuries in a car crash may have an uphill battle to recover financial support, from either insurance companies or negligent parties. Having all the resources and evidence available to support a claim is vital to its prospects. The Miami car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon can help victims sort through and utilize these resources to make sure their legal rights are protected. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call our motor vehicle collision lawyers at (877) 499-4878 or contact us online to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. We also represent residents of Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and other cities throughout Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties.