As per the Florida law, you should report a car accident immediately. In case you do not report the accident at the scene or directly after, you have only 10 days after an accident to file a police report in Florida. However, from the legal perspective, only certain accidents are required to be reported.
According to Florida Statute § 316.066, whoever is involved in an accident that results in any of the following, needs to report it to the police:
- $500 in property damage
- Death, injuries, or “any indications of pain or discomfort”
- A vehicle that needed towing from the scene
- A commercial vehicle
- An intoxicated driver
You might need to report to the local city police department, the county sheriff, or the Florida Highway Patrol, depending on the place where the accident occurs. In case you call 911, the concerned law enforcement agency will respond to the crash.
The Florida law states that as a responsible driver, you must never leave the scene of an accident. It is your duty to provide any necessary help immediately following an accident. Keep in mind that leaving an accident scene can result in having your driving privileges revoked, your license suspended or even being charged with a third or second degree felony.
You should pull up as close to the accident as safely possible after stopping your vehicle. At the same time, make sure not to obstruct traffic. Make sure to assess the situation even if it might be time-taking. Do not panic in such a situation. Be aware of the traffic situation. Also, keep the other potential dangers in mind, if any.
Make sure to do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the accident. In fact, you can take extra care when attempting to move an injured person. If you have an option, wait for an ambulance to arrive. Make sure to notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance. In case the accident did not result in any injuries, inform the local Florida police.
It is crucial to stay calm if you have been injured in a car accident. If possible, make sure that you are out of danger and not blocking any oncoming traffic. Make sure to call or wait for help, and do not attempt to move if you are unable to do so.
When you are involved in an accident in Florida, you are required to provide certain information to the other parties involved. Also, it is wise to ask for the information of witnesses to the accident just in case you need to have them testify at a later date. The basic information to exchange after an accident includes name, address and contact details, Driver license number, License plate number of the vehicles involved, Auto insurance information for the motorists involved.
How to report a car accident in Florida?
In case police has already visited the scene of the accident and documented what happened, you are not required to complete a report on your own. However, when there is no police report from the crash, and the damages exceed $500, you certainly need to file a report with the police department that has jurisdiction over the area in which your accident occurred. You can file a report online or print out the form and bring it to the office for which you are filing the report.
What information is crucial to file a police report?
You need the following set of information to report an accident to the police:
- When and where the accident occurred
- A description of the vehicles involved
- Contact information for all involved parties (include passengers and which vehicle they were in at the time of the crash)
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Insurance information for both parties
Why to file a police report?
You might fail to report a car accident to the police. In that case, you have committed a noncriminal, traffic violation. This situation will require you to appear in front of an official. You might need to perform up to 120 community service hours.
It is always good to file a police report even if you do not think you suffered any injuries in the crash. This way you will have a record that it occurred. In most of the cases, injuries from an accident take days to show symptoms. Filing an accident report with the police can help tie your injuries to the accident. It is nearly impossible to prove your injuries are the result of your accident if you do not file this police report. If you decide to file a claim, you must do so within the time frame of four years. Also, it will be impossible to get compensation from your insurance policy without a police report. Thus, you might end up emptying your pocket all at once.
Do you still need to file a report if you do not own the vehicle?
In case you do not own the vehicle involved in the accident, the owner can file the report in your behalf. You need to make sure that you note down everything you remember about the accident to ensure the owner has everything she needs to file the report in time.
As per the Florida Statute § 316.066, any report of an accident is “confidential and exempt from public disclosure” until 60 days after the day the report is filed. However, the report will be accessible to the people involved in the crash and other entities for which the information is pertinent. Such entities include the parties’ insurers and attorneys, as well as certain local, state, and federal agencies.
Keep in mind that you do not need a lawyer to file a police report. But, if you decide you want to file a claim against the at-fault driver, a car accident lawyer in Florida can be a big help. There are a lot of steps you will need to take after an accident to recover the compensation you deserve.