What Happens if You Damage Public Property in a Car Accident?

what happens if you hit public property in a car accident

Getting into a car accident can ruin anyone’s day. Whether you’re the kind of person who reacts in anger or tries to remain even-tempered no matter what, the fact is, you may have to deal with medical bills, repair costs, police reports, and possibly days out of work to deal with the aftermath.

As if that list weren’t stressful enough, sometimes, there are added complications of causing damage to someone else’s property. If you caused the accident and destroyed public property, you’ll be held financially liable. But, to what extent? And what do you need to do in such a situation?

What To Do if You Damage Public Property in a Car Accident

1. Stop your vehicle and wait for the police to arrive.

Do not leave the scene. Doing so is considered a hit-and-run, which is a crime. And you definitely do not want to face fines and imprisonment on top of a potential civil lawsuit. Florida law requires that you stop, render aid if necessary, and provide pertinent information about the accident.

2. Do not admit fault.

Let’s say you swerved to avoid hitting another car and hit a park bench, road sign, or storefront window. Or, maybe you were texting when the accident occurred. Whatever the case, stick with the basic facts: Provide your Driver’s License and contact information. Take the names of witnesses, if any. Take note of any surveillance cameras nearby and note the location so that you can request footage later. Even if you were partly at fault, Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that if you were 70% at fault and someone else was 30% at fault, you’re only liable for 70% of the damage. So don’t provide more information than necessary.

3. File a claim with your insurance company.

When you purchase car insurance, there are several options: liability, comprehensive and collision coverage, bodily injury coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage… The list goes on. While most of them are optional, liability coverage is required by law… precisely to cover damages you cause to someone else’s property. In Florida, the minimum coverage requirement is $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection (which covers a portion of medical expenses and lost wages), and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). If the damages exceed $10,000, hopefully, you have additional optional coverage because you can be sued for the difference.

4. Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than your lawyer.

If you caused public property damage, officials will do everything they can to recover damages from you. While you are responsible for the damage you caused, they are responsible for their negligence, if any. For example, improper lighting or negligent upkeep may have increased the likelihood of an accident. The same goes for if there were mechanical issues with your car that you were unaware of, but the manufacturer or mechanic knew about. Bottom line: Every case is different. Let an experienced attorney help you put the pieces together and determine how to move forward.

Call Clark Hartpence Law if You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay

If you were involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Hartpence Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you decide the best next step.

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