Florida law expects you to report a car accident immediately. If you do not report the accident at the scene or directly after, you have only 10 days after an accident to file a police report in Florida. However, it is only a legal requirement to report certain accidents.
When do I need to report a car accident to the police?
Per Florida Statute § 316.066, anyone involved in an accident that results in any of the following must report it to the police:
- $500 in property damage
- Death, injuries, or “any indications of pain or discomfort”
- A vehicle that needed towing from the scene
- A commercial vehicle
- An intoxicated driver
Who you report to depends on where the accident happened. This could be the local city police department, the county sheriff, or the Florida Highway Patrol. If you call 911, the appropriate law enforcement agency will respond to the crash.
How do I report a car accident in Florida?
If police visited the scene of the accident and document what happened, you do not need to complete a report on your own.
If there is no police report from the crash, but the damages exceed $500, you must file a report with the police department that has jurisdiction over the area in which your accident occurred.
What information do I need to file a police report?
To report an accident to the police, you need the following:
- When and where the accident occurred
- A description of the vehicles involved
- Contact information for all involved parties (include passengers and which vehicle they were in at the time of the crash)
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Insurance information for both parties
Why should I file a police report?
If you fail to report a car accident to the police, you have committed a “noncriminal, traffic violation.”
You will need to appear in front of an official and might need to perform up to 120 community service hours.
We also suggest you file a police report even if you do not think you suffered any injuries in the crash, simply to have a record that it occurred. In many cases, injuries from an accident take days to show symptoms. Filing an accident report with the police can help tie your injuries to the accident. Without this police report, it can be almost impossible to prove your injuries are the result of your accident.
Note: If you decide to file a claim, you must do so within four years.
It will also be impossible to recover compensation from your insurance policy without a police report. This can leave you paying thousands of out of pocket.
What if I do not own the vehicle? Do I still need to file a report?
If you do not own the vehicle involved in the accident, the owner can file the report for you. Make sure you write down everything you remember about the accident to ensure the owner has everything she needs to file the report in time.
Is this report private?
Florida Statute § 316.066 says any report of an accident is “confidential and exempt from public disclosure” until 60 days after the day the report is filed. But the report will be accessible to the people involved in the crash and other entities for whom the information is pertinent, such as the parties’ insurers and attorneys, as well as certain local, state, and federal agencies.
Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to file a police report. However, if you decide you want to file a claim against the at-fault driver, a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer can be a big asset. There are a lot of steps you will need to take following an accident to get the compensation you deserve. A knowledgeable car crash attorney from Coffey Trial Law can guide you through this trying time. Call 954-541-3194 to set up a free consultation.