Generally, it’s a good idea to always report your
car accident to the police. That said, you are legally required to report a collision
any time there is damage, injury, and/or death involved. Even if injuries
seem minor, or if someone only complains of feeling discomfort, someone
should report the accident to the police.
Failure to report a car accident when legally required to do so could mean
a steep fine or even being charged with a crime. If the accident involved
an injury, failing to report it could result in felony charges punishable
by up to five years in prison, if convicted.
Do I Need to Call the Police for a Minor Car Accident?
You should call the police to report a car accident, even if you think
it’s minor. A “minor car accident” is subject to interpretation,
and it’s ideal to not put yourself in a position to make that interpretation.
When the consequences of not reporting a car accident could mean being
charged with fleeing the scene of an accident or another crime, it’s
a better idea to contact the local police anyway.
If no one needs immediate medical assistance, and damage didn’t disable
either vehicle, you should call law enforcement on a non-emergency line.
In doing so, you can report the car accident without tying up the emergency
Ideally, a police officer will arrive at the scene to take statements and
complete an accident report. If you’re able, you can also go to
the nearest police station to report the accident.
What If the Police Fail to Arrive to Take the Accident Report?
If the police determine that your accident is minor, they might not show
up. For example, they’re unlikely to show up for a very low-speed
fender-bender in a parking lot (as long as no one was hurt).
In this case, you should still report your accident to the Florida Department
of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) within 10 days of the incident
to avoid a $30 fine. This is a civil matter, though, so there are no criminal
consequences to worry about if you miss the deadline.
Will Reporting a Car Accident Affect My Personal Injury Case?
A police officer’s report of your car accident may not be used as
evidence when your personal injury case goes to trial, but it can be helpful
in other ways.
For example, you can refer back to the police report to refresh your memory
of the events leading up to and occurring immediately following the accident.
Memories are often imperfect, and insurance companies will look for changes
in your recollection of events to cast doubt on what happened, which can
potentially limit your recovery.
Consult with an Attorney to Learn More
Ultimately, it’s generally advisable to report any car accident to
the police. Even if you think it’s unnecessary, it can’t hurt
to have an official record taken soon after the actual events occurred.
In the event that a police officer’s report inaccurately reflects
what you told the officer, it’s important to address this matter
with the respective law enforcement agency as soon as possible.
If you wish to learn more about what you should do after a car accident
when you’re injured, consult with a personal injury attorney. Our
team at Paulsen Law Group has the experience and skill necessary to help
you fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life.
Contact us today to get started!