There are financial consequences if you do not report a car accident in Florida. Under the law, motorists involved in a collision are obligated to report the accident to law enforcement when there are injuries or significant property damage involved. If you fail to report the accident and leave the scene of the collision, you could face criminal charges.
Keep in mind, the responsibility to submit a written accident report does not apply if the police investigated the crash. Reporting the accident orally or over the phone to a law enforcement officer means there is no need for a follow-up report from you.
Penalties for the Failure to Report a Car Accident in Florida
If you are required by law to report an accident and fail to do so, the consequences you face are non-criminal in nature. You cannot go to jail for this offense, as it is not treated as a criminal charge. Instead, the failure to report an accident results in a $30 penalty.
The consequences for leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it to police are much steeper. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense that could result in jail time if the collision involved bodily injuries or death.
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When Reporting an Accident to Law Enforcement is Required
State law does not require motorists to report every accident to police. Minor collisions and fender benders do not necessitate notifying law enforcement. The situations where you must notify the police of an accident include:
- Accidents that result in bodily injuries
- Accidents that result in death
- Accidents that result in property damage in an apparent amount of $500 or more
It should be noted that the $500 threshold for property damage is low enough to apply to a large number of motor vehicle accidents. The reality of car repairs is that even relatively minor body work frequently costs more than $500. Outside of minor scrapes or dings, many car accidents easily surpass the $500 threshold.
The law requires notifying the police of an accident as soon as possible through the fastest means available. This often means calling the police from the scene of the crash. Notifying the police in this way is enough to satisfy a motorists’ duty to report an accident.
When You Must Provide Written Notice of an Auto Accident
There is one situation where drivers must provide written notice of a car crash. If a driver involved in an accident that requires reporting notifies the police and they do not investigate, that driver must submit a written report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Motorists must submit these reports within 10 days of an accident.
Reasons to Notify Your Insurance Company
Whether or not you are required to submit a report to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is one thing. Your obligation to report an accident to your insurance company is another. Under the terms of most insurance policies, insured drivers have the responsibility to notify their carrier when an accident happens. This is true whether or not that individual ultimately files a claim with their own insurance carrier or not.
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure the insurance company has the ability to investigate the facts of an accident. Before they make a decision on accepting or denying coverage, carriers will perform their own investigation.
Because these investigations are time-sensitive, insurance companies require their drivers to notify them of a crash as soon as possible. The failure to notify your insurance company could have real consequences. It could lead to the denial of your insurance claim or even the cancellation of your entire policy.
You Do Not Have to Notify the Other Driver’s Carrier
You might have legal or contractual obligations to notify the police or your insurance provider. That said, you are never under any obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company or notify them of the accident.
In fact, talking to the other driver or the insurance company about your accident is a risk you do not need to take, as your words could be taken out of context to seem as if you accepted liability for a crash. To protect your case, avoid discussing your accident with anyone but your attorney.
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Talk to an Attorney from Our Firm Following Your Car Accident
While it is understandable to wonder what happens when you do not report a car accident in Florida, the reality is that there are rare circumstances where you will have to do more than call the police.
If you were involved in a car accident, the team at Bogin, Munns & Munns is here to help. If you hire one of our lawyers after a car accident, we can help you understand what steps are necessary in the aftermath of a collision. To give yourself a chance at financial compensation following a car accident, call 407-578-9696 as soon as possible for your free consultation.