Reporting Car Accidents in Florida - When Should You Report, and What Happens if You Don't
Is it necessary to report a car accident in Florida, and if so, how is the report made? What happens if you do not make a report of the accident? At Adams & Luka, we realize no one expects to be involved in an auto accident, but when you are, it can be a confusing situation; you want to make sure you do the right thing.
When should you report a car accident in Florida? Essentially, Florida requires motorists to report an accident when any person (passenger, driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, etc.) is injured or killed. In addition, if any property (including vehicles) are damaged in what appears to be a minimum of $500 worth of damage, the accident must be reported.
How soon after the accident must it be reported? Immediately, under Florida law, using the fastest form of communication.
Who should drivers report an accident to? If the accident occurred within a municipality, the accident must be reported to local police. Otherwise, the accident should be reported either to the nearest station of the Florida Highway Patrol, or the county sheriff's office.
What is involved in reporting a car accident in Florida? This depends on whether the accident was investigated by police, sheriff, or other law enforcement agency. If a formal investigation was performed after you have orally reported the accident to proper authorities, you will not need to file a written report. However, if no investigation was performed of the accident, as a driver you have 10 days following the accident to file a written report with the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
What if you are a driver and are physically unable to immediately report an accident? If you were injured or are otherwise physically unable to file an accident report, you are exempted from the requirement to file a report for the duration of the time you are incapacitated under Florida law. You must make a report immediately once you are physically able.
If a passenger who was in the vehicle when the accident occurred is capable of orally reporting the accident and/or making a written report, he/she is responsible for filing a report, or having someone else make the report. When the driver is not the owner of the vehicle involved in an accident and is incapable of filing a report, the owner of the vehicle must make the report within 10 days if the incapacitated driver has not done so within that time period.
What if you are involved in a reportable accident, but you do not report it? You may face a fine, as failure to report a reportable accident is a non-moving traffic infraction that is not a criminal act. In the event the accident was not investigated by police or other law enforcement personnel, failing to file a written accident report may result in a separate non-moving traffic infraction.
Reporting a car accident to your insurance provider. Even when an accident is minor or does not qualify as a "reportable accident," it is a good idea to contact your auto insurance company. When you fail to report a reportable accident to your insurance provider within a one or two days, coverage for any damage that occurred in the accident may be denied.