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Government in Florida Must Hand over Copies or Pay Attorney’s Fees

If we take your case, investigation will be a big part of finding out what happened. Getting the evidence we need to prevail in a slip and fall, trip and fall, medical malpractice, or car accident case is important.

One way we do so is to utilize public records law. Your case may involve getting records from a government department at a city, county, or state agency. The records could be reports of prior accidents, an employee file, building department records, or any other government record. Florida Law says we can get them. In fact, Florida Statute 119.01 provides that “it is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.” If you want to see Statute 119, click on this link: www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/Chapter119.

If the government department who the records are requested from doesn’t hand them over, we may be able to get attorney’s fees if we have to sue to obtain the records.

Recently, in Hewlings v. Orange County Animal Services, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D1191a (2012), the Plaintiff asked for records from Animal Services at Orange County. While Animal Services called and sent faxes, they did not provide the records. After 45 days, the Plaintiff sued. The trial court ruled the Plaintiff wasn’t entitled to attorney’s fees. But the 5th District Court of Appeals overruled and her lawyer now must be paid by Orange County.   

Florida’s Public Records Law can be helpful in representing you in your case at the Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach Courthouses. The law applies to all Cities from Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Miami, Homestead, West Miami, Hialeah, North Miami, Aventura, County Government, the Parking Authority, police departments, and so on. If it can be used to help your case, we will do so. If you have a question, call or email Jonah directly at jonahwolfson@wolfsonlawfirm.com.