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Do I Have to Report My Car Accident to the Police?


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 dispatch services.

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!

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