With over 21 million residents as of 2021, Florida is one of the most populous states in the United States. Apart from the people who were born and raised here, people from all over the country move to Florida to experience its beautiful climate and relaxed pace of living. This is especially true for senior citizens who wish to spend their retirement years here. The younger population, on the other hand, might want to live in Florida for the leisurely lifestyle and the many attractions it has to offer.
Given the number of Florida residents, it does not come as a surprise that Florida also has one of the highest rates of car ownership as well. As of 2020, Florida has over 7.8 million registered cars, the third-highest rate in the country, next to California and Texas.
Having a huge volume of cars in the state, it is not unreasonable to expect that Florida also has a high rate of car accidents and other vehicular collisions. In fact, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that in 2020, 341,399 car crashes took place. That gives us an average of 933 crashes per day. While most of the crashes that occur are minor ones, there is still quite a high number of serious crashes resulting in fatalities and other serious injuries. The same year saw 3,098 fatal crashes resulting in 3,332 fatalities.
Car accidents can range from inconvenient, such as getting minor damage to your vehicle, to tragic, as when someone dies or gets seriously injured. Even when we try our best to drive responsibly and safely, sometimes accidents just cannot be avoided. While we can’t plan car accidents or any accident on the road for that matter, it is good to have a few guidelines on what to do should you ever get into one. Some common questions are the following: What is the first thing I should do when I get into a car crash? Am I required to file a police report for a car crash after it happens? Do all collisions require an accident report? How long should I have to wait before I report the accident? What happens if I don’t report the accident at all? And is the non-reporting of such considered illegal?
If you ever get into a car accident, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you and your passengers, if you have any, are okay, and not seriously injured. Also, check that the driver of the other vehicle is okay. If you find that anyone was seriously injured, make sure that they get the necessary medical help immediately. You may do this by getting yourself to the nearest hospital, or by calling an ambulance to transport you there. As always, your safety and well-being should be your top priority. Once you get to the hospital, have yourself assessed for sprains, fractures, broken bones, a concussion, or internal bleeding. The tests you receive will depend on the kind of crash you had so make sure to be as thorough as possible when describing the crash to your attending healthcare provider. Do not forget to keep the hospital bills and receipts for your treatment, as well as your physician’s notes and prescription. These may be used as evidence in the future.
Once you are out of harm’s way and have been treated for your injuries, you must report the car accident to the local police and file a police report with them. The reporting of car crashes and other accidents on the road is required under Section 316.065 of the Florida Statutes, which states:
316.065 Crashes; reports; penalties.—
(1) The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the local police department, if such crash occurs within a municipality; otherwise, to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol. A violation of this subsection is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
This section makes it mandatory to report an accident to the police if the following conditions are met:
- The crash resulted in the death of any person;
- The crash resulted in the injury of another person; or
- There is at least $500 worth of property damage.
If the following elements are not present, you are not required to report your accident to the authorities, and you do not have to file a police report. All you simply need to do is exchange insurance and contact details with the driver of the other vehicle. However, it is still a prudent thing to do to report an accident, even if it is just a minor one, and yes, it’s also the right thing to do even if it's reporting an accident to police after the fact.
With that being said, report your accident to the police as soon as it happens, especially if you or anyone else was injured. But, as mentioned above, your health and safety are more important so once you are well enough, call the police and make a report. At this point in time, you might want to call a lawyer as well.
If you or your loved one are ever in a car accident in Florida, call a personal injury lawyer in the area. An experienced attorney can assist you in calling the police and making a police report even after the fact.
Is the Non-Reporting of a Car Accident Illegal?
We have already discussed above that if you do not fall under the elements enumerated in Section 316.065, you are not mandated by law to report an accident to the police. Even if you do fall under any of the elements which require you to make a police report, a violation of such is not considered a criminal offense, and will only be considered a non-moving violation. Despite this, it is always best to report your accident anyway. It is understandable for you to think that doing so is a waste of time if you are not required to. But reporting an accident, even after the fact, and even for a minor one, might prove more beneficial in the long run. If you do get into a minor accident, you and the operator of the other vehicle might come to an agreement to not report it to save on time and effort.
As tempted as you may be, do call the police and report the incident—even if you are to report after the fact. It is possible that the other driver was drunk or under the influence of a different substance while he was driving his vehicle and that could be the reason for the accident. The police who respond to your call and arrive on the scene or at the hospital where you are will be able to properly assess this. By choosing not to report this accident to the police, you might be letting an inebriated person back into the road, thus, putting other people at risk for more serious injuries and damage than your own. It is also possible that the person you got into an accident with was committing a crime at the time of the accident. Hence, reporting it to the police will help them ascertain such.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been in a car crash and need help in determining whether or not you should report it to the police, you need to call a personal injury lawyer. Your personal injury lawyer must have years of experience in dealing with car accidents and filing police reports, even if you are filing the police report after the fact. After your accident, they can help you do the following:
- Collect evidence from the scene of the accident — This includes taking photos of both vehicles and the damage sustained by each and requesting CCTV footage from the surrounding areas;
- Gathering of witness statements — When you get into an accident, especially in a highly populated place such as Florida, there are bound to be at least a couple of witnesses. Your lawyer can help interview these witnesses, to get a clearer picture of what happened;
- Get information on the other driver — To save you the trouble of doing this on your own, your lawyer can help you gather pertinent information on the other driver. This includes his car registration details, license number, and insurance information;
- Contact your insurance provider – Additionally, your lawyer can help you contact your insurance company to secure the compensation you deserve for the damage to your property and your physical injuries. With this being said, it is important to report the accident to your insurance company, but don’t do it without the help of an attorney. Your lawyer will negotiate with the company to get you the best possible compensation without having to drag the issue further down the road (pun intended).
Collecting the first three pieces of information is crucial as it will form a part of your police report. The police report, in turn, will be helpful, should you decide to pursue a case against the other driver. By engaging the services of a personal injury lawyer, you will save the time and effort of having to do these things yourself. Your lawyer will review the specifics of your case, answer any questions, and address whatever concerns you might have. All you need to do is focus on recovering if you were injured, and get on living your life.