Getting into a car accident is always a stressful situation. Even if it was a minor fender bender, you have to deal with the initial shock, pull over, and exchange information with the other driver. Adding insult to injury, you’re already late for work, and you wonder if there could be ramifications from the accident. However, once you cool off, you may start to wonder whether you have to report the accident to your own insurance company. What are the laws regarding this issue? What can happen if you don’t report it?
What does Florida law require after getting into a car accident?
There are certain instances when you are required by law to report the accident to the police. These include:
- If a commercial motor vehicle was involved in the accident
- If any of the drivers involved were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- If any of the cars have to be towed
- If anyone is complaining of pain or discomfort
If none of these apply to your specific case, you may be tempted to forego notifying your insurance company. After all, if you’re not required to file a police report, why should you have to notify a private insurance company?
Why You Should Notify Your Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
You may be required to do so by contract.
When you purchase car insurance, you agree to legally binding contractual terms. The same way the insurance provider has a duty to cover for your losses under certain circumstances — and provide legal representation if the other driver sues you — you have a duty to comply with your end of the deal. And this may include reporting an accident within a specific period of time — and cooperating in their investigation. If you fail to do so, you would be in breach of contract. As a result, your policy premiums could be increased or the insurance company may even cancel the contract — leaving you in a vulnerable position if the other driver files a lawsuit.
Your insurance company will cover some or all of your injuries.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance policies. What this means is that your carrier is required to cover a portion of your damages regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Let’s say you are waiting at a red light and someone rear-ends you. Even if it seems like a minor accident, you could end up with whiplash or find out you have herniated disks a few days — or even months — down the road. Symptoms may not even appear until much later. Your own insurance company will cover up to $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages, as long as you report the accident within 14 days from it happening.
If you weren’t at fault, your insurance premium won’t increase.
Your car insurance carrier cannot increase the cost of premiums due to the crash unless they can make a good faith determination that you were substantially at fault for the accident. They can make this determination by conducting their own investigation. Raising them automatically is considered to be an unfair practice prohibited by law.
If you don’t file a claim and the other driver does, the opposing side will have a head start on the investigation.
Sometimes, accidents aren’t so clear cut. You may think it happened because the other person failed to slow down — and not be aware of the fact that your brake lights weren’t working, making you partly responsible for the accident. Now, take this scenario and imagine that the other driver did report their claim to their own insurance company, while you didn’t. Their insurance company will start an investigation — locating witnesses, requesting surveillance footage (if available), and getting medical records from the other driver. Meanwhile, your insurance company is in the dark. If the case ends up in litigation, you’ll want to have as much of a level playing field as possible.
Call Us at Clark Law for a Consultation
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. The longer you wait, the higher the chance of missing the opportunity to file for certain damages, or obtain reliable evidence for your case.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.