While we certainly hope you're never in an accident, it's important to be prepared just in case. Should you ever be involved in a car accident in Florida, taking specific steps in the immediate aftermath is essential. They include:
- Checking yourself, your passengers, and all others involved in the accident for injuries.
- Moving to a safe spot away from traffic.
- Calmly exchanging contact and insurance information with the other drivers.
- Documenting the scene with pictures.
- Getting the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Seeing a doctor.
You should also report the accident. You may be legally required to do so, but even if you're not, it's still wise to file a report with the police. This ensures the accident is properly documented.
Florida Accident Report: When You Have to File One
Florida law requires motorists to report collisions when:
- a collision results in injury,
- a collision results in death, or
- a crash results in at least $500 worth of estimated property damage.
You don't have to know the phone number of the local police force with jurisdiction in the area. You can call 911 to report an accident. They will dispatch an officer to the scene.
The best action is to call the police while at the accident scene. However, if you've already been involved in a collision and didn't report it, you can do so online. It's better to report an accident late than to not report it at all.
Why Filing an Accident Report is Always Smart After a Collision in Florida
Following an accident, call the police and report it even if you don't think Florida car accident laws legally require you to do so. Reasons you should always report a crash include the following:
- You may be injured without realizing it. Because Florida accident reports must be filed when collisions result in injury, it's best to err on the side of caution. You may also want to see a doctor on the day of your accident, even if you don't believe you've been harmed. Some accident injuries aren't noticeable until hours or even days after a crash.
- Estimating the cost of property damage after a collision is complicated. A car accident could result in damage to internal vehicle components. Damage to a vehicle may appear minor, but it could be more serious than you think. Remember, if a crash results in at least $500 of property damage, you must report it.
- An objective accident report can serve as a valuable piece of documentation if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit. An insurance company may even require you to provide an accident report.
- Police officers are trained to handle accident scenes. The presence of a police officer at the scene of an accident can help you stay safe and calm your nerves.
The other drivers involved in an accident may try to convince you not to call the police. Perhaps they were breaking the law and fear repercussions. An intoxicated driver who caused an accident will not want the police to investigate. They might even offer you money to cover damages if you agree not to report the crash.
Don't let them deter you. Call the police even if they argue. Should they try to drive away when or after you call, write down or photograph their license plate number and any other details that can identify them or their vehicles.
What is Included in Florida Accident Reports?
Wait at the scene and collect evidence after calling 911. An officer should arrive soon to begin their investigation. Cooperate with them throughout the process.
When a police officer completes an accident report, they will record various collision details. These include:
- Basic facts, such as location and date.
- Names and other identifying information of those involved.
- Driver's license numbers of motorists involved in the accident.
Those are examples of facts a Florida accident report may include. Review the information carefully to ensure the officer didn't make any errors.
The report might also include the officer's opinions regarding how the accident happened. Of course, you should not admit fault after an accident, but answer an officer's questions honestly so they don't come to the wrong conclusions about what caused the accident.
An officer may also discuss the accident with witnesses at the scene. You should talk to witnesses as well. They may be willing to provide statements. At the very least, you should get their names and contact information.
Getting a Copy of the Accident Report After a Florida Car Crash
The officer won't be able to provide you with a copy of the accident report at the accident scene. The report must be made official before they can provide a copy. You can request an official copy from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles online or by mail. Also, make copies for your insurance company and a lawyer if you hire one.
How a Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help
It's best to review the accident report at the scene before it's made official. This allows you to correct any errors.
False information in an accident report may complicate negotiations with your insurance company. Steps you may take if your accident report is wrong include:
- Promptly contact the police to request changes.
- Write a separate statement addressing the error and ask that it be attached to the official report if the officer isn't willing to amend it.
- Provide any evidence (such as witness statements, medical documentation, etc.) that may support your side of the story.
Consider reviewing your case with a car accident attorney. They may be able to assist you if your accident report is inaccurate.
Hiring a car accident lawyer in Florida after a collision is often a good idea. Along with helping you secure an official copy of your accident report and attempting to make corrections if necessary, a lawyer may:
- Investigate the accident to gather evidence.
- File a claim with your insurance company.
- Negotiate for a proper settlement.
- Evaluate your damages to determine if you have justification for filing a separate claim or lawsuit against a negligent party who caused your accident.
Hiring a lawyer also lets you focus on swiftly recovering after a collision. Get started by finding a Florida car accident attorney accepting cases in your area today.