After a Car Crash Who Do You Call? The Importance of a Crash Report
Unfortunately, car crashes are far too common in Florida. In fact, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, in 2020 there were 340,918 crashes in Florida which resulted in 212,269 injuries. Many citizens of Palm Beach County find themselves in the position of being involved in a car accident and ask themselves, after a car crash, who do you call?
The first thing you should do if you are involved in a car accident is call 911. Even if the other driver urges you just to exchange information, still call the police. Indeed, Florida law, and specifically, Florida Statute 316.065, states that if you are involved in a car crash, you are required to call the police.
Information in the Traffic Crash Report
When the police arrive on the scene they will conduct an investigation and prepare a report. This report, among other things, will contain vital information including:
- Date, time, and location of the crash;
- Description of the vehicles;
- Names and addresses of the parties involved in the crash;
- Name and address of witnesses;
- Name, badge number, and agency of the investigating officer;
- Names of the insurance companies for the respective parties involved in the crash; and
- The policy numbers of the applicable insurance policies.
Even though a crash report is not admissible as evidence at trial, the crash report is prepared by a law enforcement officer who is a neutral party to the car crash and contains crucially important information that allows your attorney to fully investigate all details of your crash. By documenting the facts surrounding the crash and the parties involved, it will assist you and your lawyer in obtaining compensation for your vehicle damage and any injuries you or a loved one may suffer.
Proof of Insurance
In the state of Florida, all car owners are required to maintain a minimum amount of insurance coverage. These minimum amounts include $10,000.00 to repair a damaged or totaled vehicle. Drivers are also required to maintain proof of insurance when operating a vehicle. Unfortunately, at-fault drivers may not have their insurance information on them at the accident scene as required by Florida law. This is another reason why police need to be notified and summoned to the scene of the accident. If the at-fault driver does not have proof of insurance, many times the police officer can obtain the insurance information through internal governmental databases not accessible to the public.
When it comes to getting your car repaired, obtaining a rental car, and obtaining a personal injury settlement, the identity of the at-fault driver’s insurance company is the first, key step. Obtaining a crash report at the scene of the crash is the best way to timely obtain car insurance information.
Proving Liability or Fault in a Crash
The crash report is also step one in our investigation of liability for a car crash. Following an automobile accident, the parties involved often disagree on the details of the crash and who is at fault. In these disputed liability cases, gathering additional evidence such as eye-witness accounts, surveillance videos, skid marks and gauge marks on the roadway can be critical in proving how the crash occurred. The accident report is the first tool in our investigation.
Based on the crash report, our team at Smith, Ball & Báez will interview named witnesses, go to local businesses and establishments to request any available surveillance videos which may have captured the incident, and, if necessary, inspect the exact location of the crash to document skid marks and gauge marks that, along with other evidence, could help reconstruct the accident.
Locating the Involved Vehicle to Preserve Key Evidence
If vehicles are towed from the scene, the crash report also provides the name of the tow company. After many significant car crashes, including commercial motor vehicle or truck accidents, the vehicles are not operational and are required to be towed from the scene of the crash.
Knowing the towing company in possession of the vehicle allows you to secure and preserve the vehicle as evidence. In turn, this allows your Palm Beach County Auto Accident Attorney to gather the evidence necessary to prove your case.
Many modern vehicles contain Electronic Data Recorders (or EDR’s) commonly referred to as black boxes which contain invaluable data regarding the vehicle’s operation prior to the crash. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the EDR may contain information such as speed, braking, delta-v, steering input, seatbelt usage, airbag deployment, amongst other data points. Locating the involved vehicle and downloading this key data could be crucial in your attorney winning your case.
At Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers, we hope you are not involved in a car crash. But in the very unfortunate event that you are, please make sure to immediately call the police and report the crash. Promptly obtain the medical care you need and then contact the attorneys at Smith, Ball & Báez.
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