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How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident in Florida?

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Posted on March 11, 2024

If you get involved in a car accident in Florida, you may be legally required to file a police report. Even if the crash is minor enough to not require reporting it to law enforcement, doing so can create important evidence that can help you during a car insurance claim. Knowing if and when you should report a car accident, and what happens if you don’t, can help you protect yourself.

When Is a Police Report Legally Required?

In Florida, drivers legally must report a car accident to the police if it results in injuries, death or at least $500 in collective property damage. Section 316.065 of the Florida Statutes states the following:

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.

The “quickest means of communication” often means using a cell phone to call 911 and notify the police from the scene of the crash. If a cell phone is not available at the scene, a driver should notify the police as soon as possible.

How Soon Should You File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

Ideally, you should report a car accident to the police immediately – in the first few minutes after the collision occurs. Pull your vehicle over as close to the scene of the accident as is safe and practicable. Check yourself, your passengers and people in the other vehicle for injuries. If anyone is injured, seek medical care right away. Call local law enforcement to report the crash as soon as you can. Do so before you leave the scene so that a police officer can arrive and record your version of events.

You Have 10 Days to Report a Car Accident in Florida

If you do not report a car accident while at the scene, you have 10 days from the date of the crash to do so. Section 316.066 of the law states that a Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form must be completed and submitted to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) within 10 days after an investigation of the crash is completed.

Typically, drivers involved in a car accident call the police immediately. If a formal investigation is performed, the responding officer will fill out and submit the required crash form to the FLHSMV within the 10-day deadline. If no investigation was performed, however, you will need to file the written report on your own. Failing to report a car accident could result in a fine of up to $500.

Why Is it Important to Obtain a Police Report?

The police report can serve as a key piece of evidence during your car accident case in Florida. It can contain information such as the names of all parties involved, a description of the vehicles, what directions and speeds the cars were traveling in, and whether the other driver committed a traffic infraction. It can also contain official crash scene photographs.

You can submit a copy of your police report to a car insurance company to prove that the other driver is at fault or establish your injuries and losses. If you need assistance reporting your car accident or obtaining a police report for the insurance process, contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Vanguard Attorneys to request a free case review with an experienced lawyer.