If you’ve been injured as a result of a car accident and you’re unsure of the steps you need to take in order to obtain compensation for your injuries or damage to your vehicle, the experienced legal team at Eltringham Law can help.
Who Is Required to Report a Car Accident in Florida
According to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are more than 340,000 motor vehicle accidents on the state’s roadways each year. Florida State Statute §316.066 states that an accident must be reported to the law enforcement agency covering the area where the accident occurred when:
- The accident results in death, bodily injury, or physical discomfort for any occupant of any vehicle involved.
- The accident renders at least one of the vehicles inoperable, requiring it to be towed from the scene.
- One of the drivers is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Caused at least $500 worth of damage to either vehicle or to property at the scene.
- The accident involved a commercial motor vehicle.
The driver of any vehicle involved in the crash must report the accident.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Police?
In Florida, those involved in accidents are expected to report them as soon as possible, and no later than 10 days after the accident occurred. If you were incapacitated by injuries from the accident, it is permissible for an occupant of the vehicle who is able to make those reports to do so for you or to wait until you are physically able to file the report. If you were the driver of the vehicle but not the vehicle’s owner, and you were unable to make the report, then the vehicle’s owner can make the report for you within 10 days of the accident.
Information that Needs to Be Reported
If the driver contacts law enforcement from the scene and remains on the scene to be interviewed by the police, they do not need to further report the accident, as the investigating officers will make the report. Otherwise, the type of information that needs to be provided in the report includes:
- Date, time, and location of the crash.
- A description of all vehicles involved.
- The names and addresses of all parties involved, including all drivers and passengers and a description of which vehicle they were in when the accident occurred.
- The names and addresses of anyone who witnessed the crash.
- The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the officer(s) investigating the crash.
- The name and policy number for insurance agencies and liability policies associated with each vehicle involved.
What Happens if You Don’t Report the Accident?
Failing to report an accident can result in a non-moving traffic violation that can result in a fine. Additionally, if you fail to report the accident, you will likely be unable to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of any injuries you incurred, or for damage to your vehicle.
Who Else Needs to Know About Your Car Accident
While reporting the accident to the police is one of the first steps you should take, providing information about the crash doesn’t stop with the police report. There are others who need to be made aware of the accident, as well.
Your Insurance Provider
Even if you are uninjured and do not need to access your personal injury protection (PIP) policy and do not plan to make a claim against your own insurance for the damage to your vehicle, you still need to report the accident to your insurer. Most insurance policies require this, and failure to do so will most certainly result in a denial of coverage for any damage sustained, but can even result in the insurance company choosing to drop your coverage.
If you are seeking coverage from your PIP policy, you must seek treatment for your injury within two weeks of the date on which the accident occurred, with the claim being filed as reimbursement for that treatment. Generally, claims filed longer than two weeks after the accident will not be accepted.
If the accident involved a vehicle that you are making payments on, you will want to inform your lender of the accident as required in your contract. It is important to remember that even if you can no longer drive the car, you are still responsible for what you owe.
The At-Fault Party’s Insurance Provider
If you suffered property damage as a result of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness — such as damage to your car — you can file a third-party insurance claim to seek the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Generally, vehicle claims must be filed within 30 days of when the accident occurred.
If you were injured in the accident, you can also seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury, if you meet the state’s serious injury threshold or you max out your PIP coverage. The criteria for meeting the serious injury threshold include injuries that are permanent or result in a permanent and significant loss of a bodily function, permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement, or death.
If you satisfy these criteria, you will be permitted to file your personal injury claim as a lawsuit and have the courts determine how much compensation is owed to you.
If You Were Injured in an Accident, a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a Florida accident, the legal team at Eltringham Law can help you understand the personal injury claims process and provide you with information about the services we can provide to assist you with your claim. It costs nothing to speak with us, and if we work with you on your case, you will owe nothing for our services until there is a positive outcome to your claim. Contact us for your free case evaluation today.