One of the most stressful experiences a person can go through is a car accident. In a worst-case scenario, there are serious injuries and/or fatalities — and the emotional toll they leave in their wake. But, when you’re involved in a relatively minor accident, you may be wondering if it’s worth going through all the hassle of calling the police, filling out a report, and crossing your fingers hoping that no protracted litigation ensues. How can you ensure you’re doing the right thing?
Do You Have to Call Police After Car Accident?
As with most legal questions, the answer is — it depends. Florida Statutes section 316.066 establishes when it’s required to obtain a written police report when you’re involved in a car crash. Specifically, it states that — under certain circumstances — a long-form should be completed and submitted to the police department within 10 days after an investigation is completed by the law enforcement officer who investigated the scene of the accident. For this rule to apply, the car accident must fall under one of the following categories:
- Any of the drivers involved were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Any of the motor vehicles involved were totaled or had to be towed
- Someone involved in the accident is complaining of pain or discomfort
- A commercial motor vehicle was involved
- There was a fatality (death) at the scene
What Information to Include in the Police Report
It’s crucial to ensure that all the information on a police report is complete and accurate. While the document itself is not admissible in court in the case of litigation — as it constitutes hearsay — the attorneys involved in the case could subpoena the police officer to testify. And, considering that they see so many accidents during the course of their duties, they often rely on the report to refresh their memories. The facts to be included in the report are the following:
- The date and time of the accident
- Full names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident — including drivers and passengers
- Descriptions and license plates of all vehicles involved in the accident
- The insurance information for the parties involved in the accident
- The exact location of the accident
- The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the police officer
In addition — while not required — look around for anything that may help you prove your case. If there were any witnesses, ask them for their full names and contact information. If there are any businesses nearby, notice whether there are any surveillance videos. If so, you can send a written request for them to preserve it.
Call Clark Law for a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.