What to Know About Car Accident Reports in Fort Walton Beach, FL

Florida law requires drivers to report car accidents that cause a death, injury, or property damage greater than $500. Drivers must call the local police department, county sheriff’s office, or Florida Highway Patrol to report the accident.

The officers who respond to the call will investigate the accident. They will produce a car accident report for the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department (FHSMV). You can access the report online or order a paper copy from the FHSMV.

Here is a guide to the information in these car accident reports and how to use them.

Reporting Car Accidents in Fort Walton Beach, FL

After any car accident, pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, or motorcycle accident in Fort Walton Beach, FL, you must stop and assess the situation. You must contact the police if anyone was injured or killed.

In a typical case, you will call 911 and the dispatcher will dispatch law enforcement officers with jurisdiction over your crash. If the crash caused only minor injuries, you may call the non-emergency line for the Fort Walton Beach Police Department or the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department

If the accident happened on US-98, you can also call the Florida Highway Patrol.

The responding officers will:

  • Secure the scene and divert traffic
  • Call for medical assistance for anyone injured
  • Document the accident scene with photographs and notes
  • Interview everyone involved in the accident
  • Identify witnesses to the accident
  • Coordinate the exchange of insurance information

The officers will use the information they collect to produce an accident report.

The Accident Report

Florida law enforcement agencies use the same form to report accidents. The HSMV 90010S includes several broad fields for the officers to complete.

The report requires a detailed description of the time and location of the accident. The location identifiers include the type of road and whether the accident happened at an intersection. 

The report also includes a description of the environment, such as the lighting, weather, and road conditions at the time of the accident.

The officers must identify the vehicles and drivers involved in the accident. The officers describe the nature of the collision. They must also try to determine the “first harmful event.”

The First Harmful Event

The first harmful event helps you, your lawyer, and the insurers reconstruct the accident. At this point, the report merely describes what happened. But the description of the first harmful event can lead to an assignment of fault for the accident.

Some options on the form for the first harmful event include a collision with a moving vehicle, a collision with a fixed object, and contributing road or environmental conditions.

Property Damage

The officers report non-vehicle damage caused by the accidents. They can include damage to fixed objects like signposts or structures.

Vehicles

The report describes each vehicle, the damage it sustained, and its involvement in the accident. For example, if the vehicle was subject to a traffic control signal or sign, the officers can note this fact. This section also requires the officers to describe whether the vehicle malfunctioned.

People

The officers will identify drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists involved in the accident. The report then describes the actions that caused the accident. This section allows the officers to report whether anyone violated traffic laws or received a citation.

This section will play a key role in your injury claim. This section will describe who was distracted, failed to observe traffic laws, or tested positive for alcohol or drugs. 

Although the officers use this section to identify criminal and traffic violations, insurers will use this information to assign fault.

Using Car Accident Reports for Injury Claims

Florida uses a no-fault insurance system. For minor accidents, your insurer pays benefits regardless of fault.

But if your medical expenses exceed your policy limits or you suffer a permanent injury, you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. The accident report will play a critical role in proving who caused the accident.