How to Get a Police Report After a Car Crash in West Palm Beach

June 27, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
How to Get a Police Report After a Car Crash in West Palm Beach

If you've been in a car accident in West Palm Beach, one of the most important steps is getting a copy of the police report. The police report contains key details about the crash that will be important for insurance claims or legal cases. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can guide you through obtaining the report and building your case.

Why Police Reports Matter After West Palm Beach Car Accidents

 Police Report
  • Police reports document essential facts about the accident, including:
  • Date, time, and location it occurred
  • Contact and insurance info for all drivers involved
  • Description of vehicle damage
  • Statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses
  • Officer's assessment of fault based on evidence
  • Any traffic citations issued

This serves as an objective record of what happened. Insurance companies and courts rely heavily on police reports when determining liability and compensation. Without one, it's your word against the other driver's.

How to Request a Copy of the Police Report

Once you're on the path to recovery, you'll need to get a copy of the police report. In West Palm Beach, there are a few ways to request it:

  • Online: You can request and pay for police reports online through the West Palm Beach Public Records Center. This is a convenient option if you prefer to handle things digitally.
  • By Mail: You can also send a written request for a police report to the West Palm Beach Police Department HQ at 600 Banyan Boulevard, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. Your request should include the case number, date, location of the incident, and your contact information. Don't forget to include a check or money order for the applicable fees​.
  • In Person: For those who prefer a direct approach, you can visit the West Palm Beach Police Department HQ at the address provided for mail requests. You'll need to provide identification and payment for the report​when visiting.

If you don't have the report number, you can search by your name and the date of the accident. Reports are typically available five to seven days after the crash. If it's been over 60 days, you may need to request it from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles instead.

What if Information in the Police Report is Incorrect?

Police reports are usually quite accurate, but mistakes can happen. Officers are human and may misinterpret statements or miss certain details, especially if the crash scene is chaotic.

Common errors include:

  • Misspelled names or incorrect contact/insurance information
  • Incomplete or inaccurate vehicle descriptions and damage
  • Mistakes in the drawn diagram of the accident
  • Misrepresented witness statements
  • Opinions stated as facts

If you spot inaccuracies, contact the officer who made the report immediately. Calmly explain what is incorrect and provide any evidence to support your view, such as photos, videos, or witness testimony. The officer may file a supplemental report with corrections.

However, the officer has discretion over whether to amend the report. If they don't budge, you may need to add your statement and evidence to the record separately. An experienced car accident attorney can navigate this.

Don't Solely Rely on the Police Report

While police reports are invaluable, they don't always tell the whole story. Officers usually base conclusions on evidence and statements gathered at the scene. But in the following days and weeks, new info may come to light, like:

  • Video footage from traffic, security, or dashboard cameras
  • Vehicle data recorder ("black box") information
  • Additional or clarified witness accounts
  • Social media posts discussing the crash
  • Admissions of fault by the other driver

Your West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can investigate all potential sources of evidence to build the strongest case. Don't assume you can't recover compensation because the police report seems unfavorable. An attorney will explore every angle.

Dealing with the Insurance Companies

After obtaining the police report, the next step is often filing an insurance claim. You'll need to notify your insurer of the accident and may choose to file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurer. However, be cautious when communicating with insurance companies.

Insurance Coverage

Insurers are businesses out to protect their bottom line. They may try to downplay your injuries or shift blame onto you to reduce their payout. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions that elicit responses to weaken your claim. They may pressure you to accept a lowball settlement or give a recorded statement.

That's why it's best to let your lawyer handle insurance communications. Your West Palm Beach car accident attorney can ensure you don't say anything against your interests and negotiate for fair compensation on your behalf. Never accept a settlement or sign anything without your attorney reviewing it first.

If an insurer refuses to offer an adequate settlement, your lawyer can escalate by filing a lawsuit. Most cases settle out of court, but your attorney will fight for you at trial if needed. Your lawyer can also determine if other parties besides the at-fault driver may be liable, such as an employer, vehicle manufacturer, or government entity responsible for road maintenance.

The Benefits of Hiring a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer

Obtaining a police report is an important step after a crash, but it's just one part of the legal process. A knowledgeable West Palm Beach car accident attorney can handle all aspects of your case so you can focus on healing.

Your lawyer will:

  • Gather evidence to prove liability, including the police report, medical records, eyewitness testimony, and accident reconstruction analysis.
  • Handle all communications with insurers and file paperwork for you.
  • Accurately assess past and future damages to pursue full compensation.
  • Negotiate aggressively with insurers for a fair settlement.
  • Take your case to trial if a reasonable agreement can't be reached.
  • Explain your rights and options at every stage so you can make informed decisions.

Car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning there are no upfront fees. You only pay if and when they secure compensation for you. Most firms also offer free initial consultations, where you can get answers and advice.

How Much Compensation Can You Get?

Every car accident case is unique, so settlements and jury awards vary widely. However, an attorney will pursue maximum compensation for both monetary losses and non-economic damages, such as:

Medical Bills (Past and Future)

After a car accident, you may have significant medical expenses. These can include costs for emergency treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and ongoing care like physical therapy. Your lawyer will gather all your medical bills and records to document the full extent of treatment related to the crash.

However, the costs of a serious injury often continue long after the initial care. You may need multiple follow-up surgeries, prolonged rehabilitation, home health assistance, or lifelong medical supplies and equipment. An experienced car accident attorney will also assess your future medical needs. They may consult medical experts to estimate the costs of your care going forward.

Lost Income/Earning Capacity

Crash injuries can disrupt your work and income for weeks, months, or even permanently. You may miss work while recovering or due to medical appointments and procedures. Your injuries might prevent you from performing your usual job duties, forcing you to take a lower-paying position or leave the workforce altogether.

Lost income can be recovered as part of your car accident claim. Your lawyer will use your employment records, pay stubs, and tax returns to calculate your lost income. If your injuries affect your future earning potential, your attorney may also seek compensation for loss of earning capacity. This projects the income you would have earned over your lifetime if not for the accident compared to what you're likely to earn now with your limitations.

Property Damage

Vehicle damage is one of the most common consequences of a crash. Your car may need extensive repairs or be totaled entirely. You might also have lost valuable personal belongings inside the vehicle, like electronics, jewelry, or custom car parts.

Your lawyer will assess the costs to repair or replace your damaged property. They'll review repair estimates, receipts, and appraisals to determine the fair market value of your losses. Property damage is often the most straightforward part of an accident claim to calculate and prove.

Pain and Suffering

Not all wounds are visible. Car accidents can cause tremendous physical pain and discomfort, affecting your quality of life. The more severe your injuries, the more pain and suffering you're likely to experience.

Putting a dollar figure on pain and suffering can be challenging, as it's a subjective experience. Lawyers and insurance companies may use formulas that multiply your economic damages by a number based on the severity of your injuries. For example, if your medical bills and lost income total $50,000, and your injuries are assessed a severity of three, your pain and suffering might be worth $150,000 (three x $50,000).

Mental Anguish

Medical Bills

The trauma of a sudden crash and painful injuries often takes a toll on mental health, too. Accident victims may struggle with anxiety, depression, anger, sleep disturbances, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some may develop phobias of driving or riding in vehicles.

Like pain and suffering, mental anguish can be difficult to quantify. Your lawyer will gather evidence like mental health records, medications, and testimony from loved ones to show the psychological impact. The more your mental health has interfered with your daily functioning and quality of life, the higher the compensation you may receive for mental anguish.

Disability or Disfigurement

Severe crashes can leave victims with life-altering disabilities or disfigurements. Spinal cord damage may cause paralysis. Traumatic brain injuries can impair cognition, memory, and motor skills. Burns or lacerations may lead to permanent scarring.

Disabling or disfiguring injuries affect nearly every aspect of life, from the ability to work and care for oneself to relationships and self-esteem. Your lawyer will seek maximum compensation for the profound ways your injuries have impacted your independence and well-being. This includes amounts for assistive devices, home modifications, and loss of quality of life.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

When injuries limit your physical or mental abilities, you may be unable to participate in activities you once loved. Hobbies, exercise, social events, and travel may now be difficult or impossible. Loss of enjoyment of life damages recognize the value of the pleasurable pursuits you've had to give up because of the crash.

To seek compensation for loss of enjoyment, your lawyer will document your hobbies and activities before the accident and how your injuries prevent you from continuing them. Testimony from friends and family can reinforce how the accident has diminished your life's joys.

Loss of Companionship (For Spouses)

Accidents affect more than just the injured person. Spouses and partners suffer, too. Loss of companionship, also called loss of consortium, refers to the damage to the marital relationship when a spouse suffers an injury.

The uninjured spouse may lose intimacy, affection, comfort, assistance, and society. In some cases, the injured spouse may be unable to have sexual relations or help with childcare and household duties as before. The spouse's own social and recreational life may also be impacted.

Proving loss of companionship often involves testimony from the couple and those close to them. Medical and mental health records can document the extent of the injured spouse's limitations. An attorney can help the couple convey the depth of the damage to their relationship.

Your lawyer will calculate your damages and fight hard to ensure you receive every dollar you're entitled to under the law. While money can't undo the trauma of a serious crash, it can provide vital support for your recovery.

Act Quickly to Protect Your Rights: Contact a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer

Moving quickly after a car accident is important, as time-sensitive evidence and legal deadlines can affect your case. Florida has a statute of limitations that typically requires lawsuits to be filed within four years of the crash. However, critical proof can fade fast, such as vehicle damage, surveillance video, and witness memories.

By involving a car accident lawyer early, you protect your interests and improve your chance of a successful outcome. Once you've reported the crash to police and insurers and obtained the accident report, your next call should be to a reputable car accident attorney.

Most people are unsure what to do after a crash and have countless questions. A knowledgeable West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer can give you clarity, peace of mind, and a path forward. Schedule a free consultation with a dedicated West Palm Beach car accident lawyer today to discuss the specifics of your case and get the advocacy you deserve.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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