Is It Illegal to Not Report a Car Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a major car accident that involved a lot of damage, it may seem obvious that you need to call the authorities to report the accident. However, if you’ve been involved in a minor accident, like a fender bender, your next steps may not seem as cut and dry. If you’ve been in a minor accident that didn’t seem to cause much, if any, damage at all, do you still need to report it?
The short answer is, yes, you do. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you should call and report it, even if you and the other driver want to agree to go your separate ways without calling the authorities. The fact of the matter is that if you were the driver of the vehicle that struck another vehicle, and you subsequently do not report the accident, it is possible that your actions could be interpreted as a hit and run under the law. More importantly, if you later realize you are hurt from the accident after delayed symptoms, then you will be in many cases unable to file a claim against anyone at fault because you failed to report the collision.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you will want to ensure that it gets reported. At Darrigo & Diaz, we have years of experience representing car accident cases, both through claims and in court. We know that, no matter what happens at the scene of an accident, people may change their stories or their minds, and it’s in your best interest to protect yourself should that happen. In Florida, you are required to report any accident that caused possible injuries or any serious property damage.
What Kind of Report Should I Expect From My Accident in Florida?
In Florida law, statute Statute 316.066 outlines specific routines and procedures that must be completed after a traffic accident has occurred. There are two different forms that you may receive from your accident, a long-form for more serious accidents, and a short form that will include basic information about the crash.
The specific conditions that dictate when a Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form are:
- A crash that involves a commercial vehicle
- An accident that causes enough damage to any vehicle such that a tow truck is required to remove the vehicle from the scene
- Any accident that results in the injury or death of any driver or passenger (including complaints of pain)
- Any accident that involved any party having consumed an intoxicating substance
If the car accident did not meet any of the criteria listed above, authorities will use the Florida Traffic Crash Report, Short Form to make a record of the accident. No matter which form is used, both are required to record the following information:
- Time, date, and location of the accident
- Description of all vehicles involved
- Weather and/or road conditions at the time of the accident
- Insurance information for all parties involved
- Name, contact, and vehicle information for all parties involved in the accident
- Name and contact information for any witnesses who may have seen the accident occur
- Identification information for the officer investigating the accident
What Additional Steps Do I Need to Take After an Accident?
Aside from reporting your accident to the proper authorities, there are a few other things you will want to do in order to make sure your best interests are protected. After you’ve called 911, you should also do the following:
1. Receive Medical Attention
Even if you’re not seriously injured, it is in your best interest to seek medical attention within 24 hours of an auto accident. Many common injuries sustained in car crashes may not be immediately apparent to you, and if you later need to file a claim with your insurance to cover medical bills, your medical files will be the only way to prove that an injury occurred as a result of the accident. Don’t risk losing out on the compensation you deserve by not seeing a doctor as soon as possible after your accident.
2. Remain Calm and Quiet
After you’ve been involved in an accident, it is common to want to inform the people you know about what happened. However, it is in your best interest to keep any information about your car accident off of social media sites. In fact, if at all possible, it is best to refrain from talking about your accident at all. You don’t need to post your version of what happened or assign (or accept) blame for the accident. Let the accident be dealt with by professionals.
3. Inform Your Insurance Company (And Any at-Fault Parties)
As soon as you are able, it is imperative that you let the insurance company know that you’ve been involved in an accident. This is important because most insurance companies have a short window of time in which you are able to report an accident. If you wait until that window is closed, your insurance company may no longer be legally required to provide benefits or compensation to you. Know, too, that you don’t have to give every detail of your possible claim, just file a notice of a claim to get the process started.
When speaking to any insurance company, including your own, you don’t want to accept or assign blame. You will want to inform the representative about any possible injuries you may have, but don’t get into specifics until you have received a comprehensive medical diagnosis. Your call will likely be recorded, so it is important to be mindful of what you’re reporting to them.
4. Contact An Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
Reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney can not only help protect you but can also give you peace of mind knowing that a professional is advocating on your behalf. If you hire a car accident attorney, they can help you in many ways. They can handle claims with any insurance company on your behalf. If you are in need of receiving compensation for the accident, they can help you build your case by requesting an accident report, talking with experts, gathering medical files, and interviewing witnesses.
Speaking with a lawyer after an accident can help you determine what your best course of action should be.
Contact Darrigo & Diaz, Experienced Tampa Car Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, contact an attorney at Darrigo & Diaz today. With over twenty years of experience fighting for personal injury victims, Darrigo & Diaz can work with you to give you the best chance of receiving the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
When you call us, you will speak with an experienced attorney, free of charge. In your complimentary consultation, which can be conducted either virtually or in person, you will receive personalized, specific advice about how to proceed with your case. You can call us at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online.