How to Read Your Florida Car Accident Report
Insight you can use from an experienced Longwood lawyer
After a car wreck, your Florida Traffic Crash Report may be a critical piece of evidence in your injury claim. Insurance companies use this form to determine fault and evaluate claims, and if the investigating police officer is asked to testify in a deposition or at trial (often many months or years after the accident itself), the report will likely be the basis of that testimony.
The insurance adjusters and others who will make decisions about your claim know how to read this report, and you should, too. As a special service to you, we have provided a sample accident form here with our comments.
Attorney Scott M. Miller has years of experience working on car accident cases in the Greater Orlando area and throughout the state. He knows how to interpret accident reports, interview witnesses, hire top-notch experts and take other necessary steps to support a compelling legal case. If you need help obtaining or interpreting your car accident report, call us anytime. We'd be happy to assist you, free of charge.
This page provides an overview of the accident, including the date, time, and location where the wreck occurred.
In the top-right corner, the investigating officer fills in the number of additional pages. Depending on the number of people and vehicles involved, accident reports can become quite long – be sure to check every page.
This section describes how and why the accident occurred, including road conditions, light, weather, and other contributing circumstances. Driving too fast for the conditions is a common cause of crashes, so this section can be important to establish fault.
Contact information for witnesses is listed here. It’s important to get statements from witnesses quickly, before they forget what they saw.
If any non-vehicle property (such as a guardrail) was damaged, it’s documented here.
The investigating officer writes down a narrative of how the accident happened in paragraph form. For particularly complex accidents, additional narrative pages may be used.
Read through the narrative carefully. Investigating officers often use this page as a “catch-all” for information that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the report. Every detail matters.
The narrative page also has space to document contact and injury information for additional passengers involved, and for violations issued. Traffic violations can be a basis for determining fault – but not all negligence violates a specific traffic law, so this isn’t the final say.
The investigating officer draws a pictorial diagram of the accident on this page. This diagram should include the roadway, each vehicle’s location and direction of travel, and physical evidence such as skid marks – all of which can be critical to establishing fault for the accident.
This page describes a single vehicle involved in the accident. One copy of this page will be used for each vehicle involved.
The report documents the vehicle’s license plate, year, make, and model, as well as the insurance information and owner’s contact information. Damage to the vehicle, if any, is also documented here.
The investigating officer takes note of the vehicle’s direction of travel and location of impact. This can affect liability for injuries as well as property damage – if the report, for instance, says a vehicle was heavily damaged on the passenger side, people seated on that side likely have significant injuries, too.
If the vehicle in question was commercial, information on the motor carrier is included here.
The codes used on this page document the vehicle’s body type, the type of road it was traveling on, and the maneuvers and sequence of events that occurred during the accident. Combined with the narrative, this is key to piece together what happened.
Any citations for traffic violations involving this vehicle are documented on this page.
This page is about a person involved in the accident; as many copies of this page will be used as needed to document everyone involved.
The number in the top left documents whether the person was a driver, non-motorist (such as a pedestrian), or passenger. Different sections of the rest of the page are used depending on the type.
The top section gives the person’s contact information, driver’s license information, and injury severity. The vehicle number used on this page should match the appropriate vehicle page.
The “driver” section is critical, as it contains information on negligence such as distracted driving or reckless maneuvers. This can be key to establish fault for the accident.
The “driver or passenger” sections include information on safety equipment such as seatbelts, as well as seating position and whether the person was ejected from or trapped in a vehicle.
The “non-motorist” section is used for pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. It documents the non-motorist’s location, actions, and if applicable, safety equipment.
If the investigating officer suspected any drug or alcohol use, or if tests were performed at the scene, they are documented here.
Additional passengers can also be documented on this page.
Click here to download a printable PDF of these instructions.