Why is it important to give a full accident report to the police?
A majority of those living in the state of Florida, at one time or another, has been involved in an auto accident. Whether it be in a parking lot fender bender or a highway collision, more often than not the police arrive. The investigating officer will go to each driver and ask them what happened. This is done during the course of an accident investigation. The accident investigating officer’s intentions in interviewing the drivers is to obtain a factually accurate account of the incident. The purpose of this is to document the crash and determine who, if anyone, will be given a citation – in other words, who is at fault.
The accident report is also used for insurance purposes. Carriers rely on these action reports to assess fault in order to pay property damages and injury damages. However, the statements of anyone involved in the crash given to the investigating officer during the accident investigation are privileged.
This means a driver confessing to causing the accident can be assured that the statement will be inadmissible in a court of law to prove liability. This seems incredible. However, the public policy behind the accident report privilege is to allow participants in a crash to convey freely and accurately information relating to the cause of the crash to the investigating officer. If the law allowed for these admissions to become evidence in any subsequent trial, it would have a dampening effect on the willingness of an individual to speak freely about the incident. In other words, the public policy of obtaining accurate information relating to a crash outweighs the admissibility of these confessions to establish liability in subsequent court proceedings.
Therefore, every driver or participant in a crash should feel comfortable about talking to the officer and relating accurately what they know about the crash without fear of having the information used against them later.