Florida’s Accident Report Privilege

The concept of privileges deals with two situations—either a witness’s right to refuse to testify or a plaintiff or defendant’s right to prevent a witness from testifying about certain communications made between the plaintiff or defendant and the witness. One of the most wellknown privileges involves the attorney-client privilege. The attorney/client privilege is one of the most difficult barriers to penetrate. Just about anything that a client tells his or her lawyer in confidence, shy of telling the lawyer that he or she plans to commit a crime, will be privileged. In addition, the client may prevent the lawyer from testifying and the lawyer can and must, refuse to testify on behalf of the client. One common exception worth noting is that if a client sues or makes a complaint against a lawyer, the lawyer may usually break the confidentiality requirement to the extent necessary to defend the lawsuit or complaint. Because the attorneyclient privilege involves a client or attorney’s right to refuse to testify, it is a privilege. However, there are many other privileges which may apply in civil cases. Although not a complete list, some of the more common privileges that apply in personal injury civil cases include the spousal privilege, attorney-client privilege, physician/patient privilege. In this blog post, we will discuss Florida’s accident report privilege.

Scope and Extent of Florida’s Accident Report Privilege

In most states including the state of Florida, police officers are required to be called whenever a motor vehicle accident occurs. Even though the creation of an accident report is mandated by Florida law, those involved in civil or criminal cases arising from an accident have the ability to assert the so-called accident report privilege. Fla. Stat. § 316.066(1)(a) provides that an accident or traffic report shall be completed by officers and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement within ten days of an accident that results in death, injury, involves a hit and run or
DUI, or when a vehicle is so damaged that it must be towed from the scene of the accident. The law in Florida is clear that any statements or admissions made by witnesses to a car accident or by an individual involved in a car accident during a police accident investigation may not be utilized as substantive evidence in any subsequent administrative hearing or during a civil or criminal trial. Specifically, the statute states that “each crash report made by a person involved in a crash and any statement made by such person to a law enforcement officer for the purpose of completing a crash report . . . shall be without prejudice to the individual so reporting. Such report or statement may not be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal. However, subject to the applicable rules of evidence, a law enforcement officer at a criminal trial may testify as to any statement made to the officer by the person involved in the crash if that person’s privilege against self-incrimination is not violated.” One detail that should be understood regarding the accident report privilege in Florida is that it does not always apply to all the information and content found in an accident report. That means that the privilege might not apply if the information in the report relates to information regarding tangible evidence from a car accident, location of the accident, the respective position of all vehicles’ locations at the time of the accident, and the existence and extent of damage to the vehicles as a result of the accident. There are also exceptions to the accident report privilege, such as, if a person who is involved in an accident makes an “excited utterance” against his or her interest to the investigating officer. There are several reasons for the existence of the accident report privilege in Florida. In any case, however, an experienced car accident injury attorney often can obtain the same information found in an accident report through other means.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today!

Not every state recognizes all privileges. In addition, each state may apply the privileges in different ways depending on the circumstances and type of case. As such, if you want to know what privileges might apply in your case, reach out and speak with one of many experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation! At our firm, our policy is that if you don’t recover compensation, you won’t pay any fees for our services. Not to mention, we also provide free case consultations where we assess the circumstances surrounding your case and give you an objective overview of what steps you can take going forward if you decide to act against the party responsible for your injuries. For over 19 years, we have delivered quality legal representation for people who, through no fault of their own, have been injured in all types of accident and incidents. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation.

We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:

Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.

Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.

Jaime Suarez

An experienced legal personal injury defense professional in Miami, who is dedicated to helping accident victims with personal injury cases involving automobile accidents, brain and spinal cord injuries, slip and fall accidents, prescription errors, wrongful death, and accidents at work.