How Do Police Handle Motor Vehicle Accidents?
The police deal with motor vehicle accidents by:
- Responding to the 911 call made after the accident
- Getting medical help for anyone who needs it
- Collecting evidence from the scene, which includes speaking with everyone at the scene
- If necessary, conducting Breathalyzer tests and taking suspects into custody for questioning
- Filing an official report
Reporting a Motor Vehicle Accident and Getting Medical Help
Motor accidents that result in injuries, fatalities, and/or significant property damage must be reported to the police. You can do this by calling 911 from the scene. The police will respond to your call as quickly as they can.
Alternatively, if you must leave the scene immediately (for instance, if you are severely injured), you can report the accident later by filling out the appropriate form issued by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
If you have not already called an ambulance by the time the police arrive, or if you are simply unable to do so, the police will make sure you get the emergency assistance you need.
The Police Will Start Investigating the Motor Vehicle Accident Immediately
Later on, you can hire a car accident lawyer to investigate the crash for you. They will look specifically for evidence that proves another party, not you, caused the collision and owes you compensation.
Before that happens, the police will conduct their own investigation. Part of how the police deal with motor vehicle accidents is by:
- Talking with everyone at the scene, including both witnesses and participants
- Examining the environment in which the accident occurred
- Taking or looking at photos of your injuries, the damaged cars, and so forth
The officer should conduct a thorough investigation into your crash, even if you were hit by a police car. Unfortunately, the police may be reluctant to implicate one of their own. If you suspect the police did not respond appropriately after an accident involving a police car, consult a car accident attorney right away.
Holding People Responsible for Motor Accidents
When it comes to police dealing with motor accidents, one job they can do that no one else can is to take custody of those who caused or may have caused the accident. For example:
- Say that the officer arrives on the scene to find that one driver is slurring their speech and exhibiting other signs of intoxication.
- The officer has the equipment and the right to ask that driver to undergo field sobriety tests, such as a Breathalyzer test.
- If the driver refuses or fails the test, the officer can take the driver into custody. There, the officer could conduct further tests and hold the driver on drunk driving charges.
If the circumstances of your accident are not so clear-cut, the officer may not hold or arrest anyone right away. Instead, they will continue to talk to involved parties and collect evidence until they have a clearer picture of what occurred.
The Police Report and Your Legal Rights
Once the police finish investigating, they will put all of their evidence and findings into a report, which they then submit to their department. According to Florida Statutes § 316.066, the police must file this report within ten days of completing their investigation. The official accident report contains a lot of information, including but not limited to:
- The names, contact information, and insurance information of all involved parties, including passengers
- The names and contact information of the witnesses
- The name of the responding officer who investigated
- The time, date, and location of the accident
- The state of the accident location when the officer arrived
- What kinds of vehicles were involved in the accident
- Official statements from the involved parties
The police use this information to tell them:
- Who caused the accident
- How the liable party’s actions led to the accident
- What charges they should level against the liable party
The police are not the only ones who can use the accident report in this fashion. Your attorney can request a copy of the report and:
- Go over it with you to make sure it matches your recollection of the events
- Add it to your casefile as proof that the liable party was negligent and that they should pay damages
- Use it to locate witnesses who may be willing to write statements or testify in support of your case, or to share supplementary materials (e.g., cell phone photos) that may shed new light on events
Whatever materials the police generate or collect could ultimately help you, with support from your lawyer, to recover damages.
Get Representation After a Motor Vehicle Accident
The Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato prides itself on providing compassionate, attentive service to each and every client. That includes taking the time to answer your questions about topics like how the police deal with motor vehicle accidents. Call (954) 633-8270 for a free case review Contact us today.