Do You Have to Call the Police After a Car Accident in Florida?

do you have to call the police after an accident

One of the most stressful experiences a person can go through is a car accident. In worst-case scenarios, there can be serious injuries and fatalities — and the emotional toll they leave in their wake.

But when you’re involved in a relatively minor accident, you may wonder if it’s worth going through all the hassle of calling the police. After all, the process of filling out a report, following up with the police, and hoping that no protracted litigation ensues may feel more difficult than the accident itself.

This guide will help you understand the facts about calling the police after an accident, including what the law says about calling the police after an accident in Florida. You will also learn about the steps anyone should take after a car accident, and how a lawyer can protect your rights and ensure you are fairly compensated for any damage and medical expenses that occur.

Should you always call the police after a car accident?

In almost any accident, it is highly recommended to call the police and at least file a report.

If there is any damage or injury, the law in Florida requires police to be notified.

Another important reason to always call the police after any accident is that many accident-related injuries have a delayed onset. By filing a police report and documenting the accident immediately, you will be better protected if any future litigation ever occurs.

Do you have to call the police after a minor car accident?

No matter how minor the accident seems, you should call the police immediately after the accident if there was any extensive damage or any chance of injury. If there is no need for immediate medical assistance or no interruption to the flow of traffic, it is possible that police officers may not be dispatched to the scene. But creating a report of the accident will provide legal documentation if it is ever needed down the road.

Do you need to call the police after a fender bender?

The only time you would not need to call the police after an accident is if there was a very minor collision with little-or-no property damage, both parties were able to safely exit the roadway, and both parties are absolutely certain they did not sustain any injuries. Since it is so difficult to be 100% sure that an injury did not occur, it is generally best to err on the side of caution and call the police.

What happens if you don’t call the police after an accident in Florida?

Florida Statutes section 316.066 establishes when it’s required to obtain a written police report when you’re involved in a car crash. The law states that under certain circumstances, a long-form police report should be completed and submitted to the police department within 10 days after an investigation is completed. This should be performed 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 at the scene

Failing to provide the required information constitutes a nonmoving traffic violation. What’s more, you won’t be protected if the other party does file a police report and begins litigation for property damage and injury. Law enforcement may void the infraction if the parties were too injured to complete it immediately following the accident.

What needs to be included in the police report?

The parties involved must include the date, time, and location of the crash, along with their full names, address, and insurance information on a police report. You’ll also need to provide:

  • Descriptions of the vehicles involved in the accident
  • The names and contact information of all passengers and witnesses
  • The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the officer

Steps to Take After A Car Accident

In addition to calling the police, anyone involved in a car accident should always take the following steps:

1. Stay at the Scene and Do Not Admit Fault

The first thing to remember is to never leave the scene of the accident. No matter what happens, the consequences of leaving the scene are always worse than if you just stayed. If you have started to leave the accident, turn around and make every reasonable effort to safely return.

When speaking to the other party, any witnesses, or police, never admit fault. Even if you were replying to a text message or otherwise distracted, you don’t know all the facts yet. Many things come into play in the event of a car accident, and it takes a while to reconstruct it all.

For example, factors like the other driver, the working condition of vehicles, the state of the roads, signage, weather, and visibility can all contribute to a car accident. Police, insurance companies, and attorneys will be conducting investigations to recreate the events of the crash. Admitting fault immediately can skew the investigation away from other facts and be used against you later in the proceedings.

When asked, never lie or offer misleading information. But don’t offer up unsolicited information either.

2. Assess the Damage

After ensuring that no one is seriously injured and in need of immediate medical attention, exchange information with the other parties involved and take pictures of the damage with your cell phone if you are able to. You should also get contact information from any witnesses who are on the scene. Once the police report is complete, review it carefully. If the law enforcement officer forgets to list a detail or includes an erroneous statement, it may be an uphill battle to dispute it once litigation has started.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim and provide as much information as possible.

3. Seek Medical Attention Within 14 Days

In Florida, car insurance policies are required by law to provide up to 80% coverage of medical bills in personal injury protection (PIP) and up to 60% coverage of lost wages. However, in order to be able to file a claim with your own insurance company for this type of protection, you have to seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident. This is non-negotiable, as it’s established by law.

4. Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Every car accident is different since circumstances are rarely the same from one car crash to the next. This is why it’s crucial to run the facts by an attorney. It’s the only way to be fully informed about the types of compensation you can claim, any liability you could be responsible for, and how settlement negotiations typically work. In most cases that would require a lawyer, attorneys will need a police report. If you have not filed a police report for a serious accident, an attorney can advise you on how best to proceed.

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

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, 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.