Can You Make a Car Insurance Claim Without a Police Report?

Can You Make a Car Insurance Claim Without a Police Report

If you have been in a relatively small accident or fender bender, it can come with a lot of questions, including whether it is beneficial or prudent to involve the police or insurance companies. While accidents involving significant injury and property damage will certainly involve the creation of a police report and insurance claims, they can be less clear in minor accidents.

For example, if no one was hurt, all parties were cooperative, and any property damage was minor, do you need a police report to be able to file a claim with your insurance company?

The short answer is, in most cases, you can make a car insurance claim for a car accident even if you don’t have a police report. But in most situations, a police report can be extremely helpful as documentation for the accident and establishing fault. Additionally, some insurance companies do require a police report to process the claim, so you should always check with your insurance provider to understand their requirements.

This guide will give you a better understanding of what constitutes a minor car accident, when the police should be contacted, how to gather evidence, and how an attorney can help your case.

Defining a Minor Car Accident

Minor car accidents are usually defined as those where damage to any vehicles involved is relatively minor, and there are either no injuries or no serious injuries. Minor accidents generally involve low-speed collisions, including minor rear-end collisions or sideswipes.

Minor accidents are still potentially traumatic events that need to be taken seriously by all parties. It’s important to understand that many accident-related injuries have a delayed onset, so even if you think you or the other party were unaffected, there could be whiplash, head injuries, and internal injuries that develop days or weeks later. Similarly, there can also be damage to the vehicle that only becomes apparent later.

Because it can be so difficult to judge whether an accident was minor or major in the stress of the moment, it is highly recommended to err on the side of caution and at least contact the police.

Legal Requirements for Contacting the Police

In many situations, people in a car accident are legally required to contact the police and file a report. For example, according to the Florida Statutes section 316.066, the police need to investigate the scene of an accident where there is a fatality, someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, vehicles are totaled or need to be towed, someone complains of pain, or there is a commercial vehicle involved.

Even if none of these situations have occurred, contacting the police establishes a record of the event and basic facts of the case. Sometimes, the police may not be dispatched to the scene to conduct an investigation. In these situations, it is often advisable to gather evidence and submit a report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).

Filing a Report By Yourself and Gathering Evidence

If you don’t have a police report, you can still gather evidence to support your claim and submit a report to the police yourself. This includes taking photos of the vehicle damage and any injuries, creating a detailed description of both vehicles, collecting contact information from witnesses, and exchanging insurance information with the other party.

Even if you think you were not injured, seeking medical attention and getting checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident is critical. This helps you stay ahead of any delayed onset injuries while establishing a medical record that can link any injuries directly to the accident. Furthermore, Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) law requires anyone involved in an accident to seek medical attention within 14 days to receive any covered compensation.

Statute of Limitations for Reporting an Accident

In Florida, any accident without an on-scene investigation has a 10-day period where a motorist can file a report of the accident with any supporting evidence. This report can be valuable for making an insurance claim and protecting you from liability if the other party decides to take legal action.

Insurance companies typically do not have an exact timeline for filing a claim but instead strongly recommend making a claim as soon as possible. Delaying the claim could have an impact on the decision your insurance company makes. Florida’s statute of limitations for lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage is four years.

When to Hire an Attorney

If you have been in a minor accident and have questions about filing a police report, making an insurance claim, or you have missed any of the deadlines for claiming or reporting the accident, an attorney may be able to help. Car accidents have high variability, and no two are the same. Because of this, it’s important to consult with an attorney if you are unsure about an insurance claim or who is at fault. If you have not filed a police report for a minor accident, and your attorney believes you may need one, you can receive advice on how best to proceed.

Call Clark Hartpence Law for Accident Advice in Tampa Bay

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, even a minor one, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Hartpence Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients who were involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we can help you determine the best next step.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.