If a car accident occurs and damages a vehicle (or other property) but does not require a police report (see criteria below), the driver of any vehicle involved in the collision must report the accident within the 10 days following the crash. This written report must be provided via a law-enforcement-approved form.
When an Auto Accident Report Needs to Be Filed By Law Enforcement
In certain instances, a written report called the Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form is completed by the police officer investigating the collision. This report is required for any accident that meets the following criteria:
- The collision caused the death of or injury to individuals who were involved in the collision.
- The crash involved a party leaving the scene of the accident without giving his/her information (name, vehicle registration, etc.), rendering aid to the other party, if needed, or ensuring that the accident is reported to the authorities; or a party was driving drunk or intoxicated.
- A vehicle involved in the collision was damaged to the extent that it was inoperable and had to be removed from the scene of the accident by a wrecker.
- A commercial motor vehicle was involved in the crash.
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What Is Included in a Florida Traffic Crash Report?
You can look to the Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form, for all the basic facts about an auto accident in Florida, including:
- Where and when the accident happened
- Descriptions of all vehicles involved in the collision
- Names and contact information for all drivers and passengers, as well as
information on the vehicles each was driving or riding in
- Names and contact information for individuals who witnessed the accident
- Name and badge number for the police officer investigating the collision
Crash Reports Are Available Immediately to All Parties Involved in the Crash
Any party involved in the accident can obtain the police report. These reports are also available to:
- Legal counsel
- Insurance agents
- Law enforcement agencies
- The Department of Transportation
- Victim services programs
- Various forms of media (newspapers and radio and television stations)
To receive the crash report, an individual must provide a photo ID and sign a sworn statement that the information will not be used for commercial solicitation.
Crash reports in Florida are public records; however, because the report contains personal information, such as the identity of the involved parties, phone numbers, and home or employment addresses, they are kept confidential for a period. Traffic accident reports are exempt from public disclosure for 60 days after the filing date. As a matter of public record, they are available to anyone who wishes to obtain one.
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When a Long Form Report Is Not Required, a Short Form Is Completed
If a collision does not meet the criteria that require a Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form to be completed, a short-form version of this report is filed. Alternatively, the law enforcement officer on the scene may give each driver involved in the collision a driver exchange-of-information form.
Items Included in the Short Form Report
- Where and when the collision occurred
- Descriptions of vehicles involved in the crash
- Names and contact details for drivers and passengers involved in the accident, including descriptions of the vehicles each was driving or riding in
- Witness’s names and contact information
- Police officer’s name and badge number
- Insurance companies for the parties involved in the accident
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Everyone Involved Must Provide Proof of Insurance
The parties involved in the accident must provide proof of insurance to the police officer who arrives on the scene to investigate the crash. The officer, in turn, documents this proof in his or her crash report.
Failure to provide such evidence can result in the issuance of a non-moving violation. The law enforcement officer might deem that the circumstances of the accident made the provision of this information not immediately possible, however. In this case, the party has 24 hours to provide proof of insurance. If they can fulfill this duty, the police might void the citation.
Florida Statutes Motor Vehicles Title XXIII, Chapter 316 describes reporting requirements following an auto accident in Florida.
What if I Physically Can’t Report My Car Accident?
Per Florida Statutes § 316.064, if a driver is involved in a crash that must be reported but is physically unable to report it (orally or file a written report), the person is exempt from reporting it for the time they are incapacitated. If there were passengers in the car at the time of the crash, the passengers are responsible for making the report since the driver could not do it. When the driver cannot report the accident and is not the owner of the vehicle, the vehicle’s owner must make a report within 10 days if the driver hasn’t done so by that point.
What Happens if I don’t Report a Reportable Accident in Florida?
Failure to report a traffic accident, as Florida law, requires is a non-moving traffic infraction and a non-criminal act. The law states that you can receive a citation from law enforcement to appear before an official in court.
Beneficial Things to Do After the Accident
When dealing with a life disruption like an accident, it can be difficult to figure out what to do next. However, after filing an accident report, you should :
Keep Off of Social Media
Protecting your claim to compensation is important. Insurance adjusters might take your words or photos out of context to disprove your injuries and other losses.
Avoid Discussions of Fault for the Crash
Your words have a lot of power when it comes to car accidents. An insurance company can see any hint of guilt over the accident as an admission of fault. Avoid lengthy discussions at the scene with witnesses or other parties involved. Limit conversations to asking questions you need to gather necessary contact, vehicle, or insurance information. It is also fine to ask witnesses what they saw. If authorities determine you are 100 percent at fault for the crash, you risk losing compensation in your car accident claim due to comparative fault laws. If you and another party share liability for the crash, your recovery amount will decrease according to your percentage of fault.
Document the Car Accident With Photos or Video
Regardless of the type of accident or whether you are legally required to report it, you should always snap photos or shoot a quick video of the damage. Photos or video footage of your injuries, the cars involved, and other property damaged in the collision may benefit you in an injury insurance claim or lawsuit.
Wait to Provide an Official Statement to Insurance
It is in your best interest to hold off on giving any recorded statement to an insurance company until you have consulted with a Florida car accident attorney or at least prepared what you are going to say. It is OK to ask insurers to postpone any official statement until you have composed yourself. Leave information about your health or injuries out of the statement and stick to the facts.
Not Accepting Quick Settlement Awards
The insurer might offer a low amount that does not truly cover all your accident-related losses. You should wait until you speak to legal professionals to understand what losses could make you eligible for damages. Also, your medical team can tell you how long your injuries will take to heal. You might have medical expenses far into the future. Further, you should not provide or release any records to the insurance adjuster, nor should you sign any documents.
Retaining Your Lawyer to Handle Your Auto Accident Case
After an accident, you might be dealing with many injuries and expenses. This is not the time to argue with insurance adjusters or brainstorm opportunities for evidence supporting your case. A legal professional from our firm can support your family at this time.
We are ready to:
- Investigate the accident
- Assign a value to your losses
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement
- Answer your questions and walk you through the process
- Tell you about your legal options
- File paperwork
- Stand with you in court, if necessary
- Help you stay within the statute of limitations
- Gather evidence that supports your case
If You Were Involved in an Auto Accident in Florida and Want a Car Accident Lawyer
Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers’ auto accident legal team in Florida is ready to get started on your case. We will pursue legal action against the driver whose negligent behavior caused your injuries.
You deserve to be compensated, and we will provide compassionate, professional services to see that your case is heard. Call today for a free case review.
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