After a car accident, it is generally a good idea to call the police. But in the State of Florida, calling the police is actually mandatory in certain circumstances. If you do not file a crash report with the police after certain accidents, you could face serious consequences including citations, fines, community service hours, and in extreme cases, even jail time.
When must I report an accident?
Under Florida Statute § 316.065, you must file a report with the police in two circumstances. Police reports are mandatory when:
- The crash results in injury or death
- The crash causes $500 or more in property damage
If the crash happened within the borders of a town or city, you must notify the local police department. However, if the crash happened outside of city borders, you must notify the County Sheriff or the Florida Highway Patrol.
How long do I have to report a car accident in Florida?
If a police officer reports to the scene of the accident and completes an investigation, you do not have to write a report. Instead, the police officer will write up an accident report for you as part of his/her investigation.
However, if a police officer does not show up to the scene of the accident and complete an investigation, then you will need to write a report of the accident and file it with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident per Florida Statute § 316.066. That report should contain:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- The make, model, and colors of the vehicles involved
- Names and addresses of people involved (drivers and passengers)
- Names and addresses of all eyewitnesses
- Proof of insurance and the name of insurance companies of the drivers involved
What if I am unable to report the crash?
If you were injured in the crash, it may have been impossible for you to report the accident. Florida Statute § 316.064 makes an exception for people physically incapable of reporting the car accident. If you cannot file a report with the police, other people may have to do so on your behalf.
For example, if there was another person riding in the car with you at the time of the crash and that person is able to call the police, s/he must, by law, file a report. Additionally, if you were borrowing someone else’s car, the owner of the vehicle must report the accident to the police if you are unable to do so.
What are the penalties for failing to report an accident?
Failing to notify the police that an accident happened is a noncriminal traffic infraction. Typically, this offense is punishable by a fine. However, depending on the severity of the accident and whether the police consider the crash to be a hit and run, the punishments could include mandatory court hearings, community service hours, and even jail time.
Should I notify my insurance company too?
Although the law does not require you to notify your insurance company of a crash, it is generally a good idea to do so. Many insurance companies refuse to pay for the damage of an accident unless you notify them of the crash within a reasonable time period (usually two to three days at the most).
If your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay for the cost of the crash, the car accident attorneys at the Montero Law Center can help. We will work with the police to collect a copy of the accident investigation and report. If necessary, we will also work with experts to reconstruct the accident and pinpoint the exact cause. We also handle the negotiations with the insurance companies so you do not have to.
To find out more information about how we can help, contact Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500.