When a car accident occurs, you need to know what happens next. In addition to seeking medical attention, if there is any possibility of injury, there are reporting requirements.
Drivers involved in a crash need to know how long they have to report a car accident in Florida, and the Maderal Byrne & Furst PLLC car accident lawyers in Coral Gables explain.
At a Glance — After a Car Accident, How Long Do You Have To…?
|Call the police||Immediately, if anyone is hurt or there is property damage of $500 or more.|
|Submit a police report||10 days after the accident. Required only if the police don’t file a report.|
|File an insurance claim||It varies by policy, but it’s always best to file it promptly.|
|File a legal claim||Two years.* § 95.11(4).|
*The two-year statute of limitations applies to causes of action accruing after March 24, 2023.
The Amount of Time You Have to Report a Car Accident
Under Florida Statutes § 316.065, a driver involved in a car accident resulting in injury or death or apparent property damage of $500 or more must immediately report the collision to the local police. If the police do not prepare a law enforcement report, you have 10 days to submit a written report using an approved form.
Timelines for reporting a crash to the insurance company vary. However, you must seek medical attention within 14 days to claim no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, and you should always report an accident to your insurance company promptly.
Florida Accident Reporting Requirements
You should expect to call the police after a traffic accident. It doesn’t take much for car accident damage to reach $500, and it is crucial to have an early record of noticeable injuries. Unless there is minor cosmetic damage to a vehicle or there is damage only to fixtures, like lawn decorations or a mailbox, drivers must immediately notify the police.
If someone is injured or killed in a crash, Florida local or state police will respond, investigate, and complete a report. If they do, your obligation to report the car accident is complete. However, the police don’t always respond. They may not have the resources available, or it may simply not be necessary.
If the accident doesn’t require reporting to the police, or if the police choose not to respond, you have 10 days to complete a self-report using the Driver Report of a Traffic Crash form. You can submit the form by email to SelfReportCrashes@flhsmv.gov or by mail to Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.
Long form vs. short form accident reports
There are two versions of a car accident report – long form and short form. Long form is required if there is death, personal injury, an inoperable vehicle requiring a wrecker, or a commercial motor vehicle involved. Long form and short form accident reports are similar. The primary difference is that a diagram and narrative are not required for a short form report.
How long do you have to report a car accident to insurance in Florida?
The days to report a car accident to your insurance in Florida vary by policy. The insurance policy may not have a set number of hours or days as a firm deadline for making a report. Usually, there’s no strict deadline beyond reporting the accident promptly or as soon as possible.
It’s always best that you report a car accident to your insurance company in a timely manner.
Remember, insurance companies love collecting premiums — they don’t love paying compensation. A delay in reporting to insurance may increase the likelihood that the insurance company questions the case. They may wonder why there was a delay.
Of course, if you are addressing serious injuries, it may not be possible to notify your insurance right away. This is understandable, and it’s also why insurance companies often don’t have strict deadlines. However, it’s important to notify the insurance company as soon as possible. You don’t have to provide complete details right away. In fact, you shouldn’t — simply tell them that a crash has occurred, that you have injuries, and that you will provide additional information soon.
Florida state deadlines — reporting your accident to comply with the statute of limitations
Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for claims based on negligence, including car accidents. The deadline is strict. If you don’t file your claim in a court of law within two years, your opportunity to receive compensation is lost, even if you have a great case.
Even if you are still in insurance negotiations, you must get your case to court before the deadline runs out. The insurance company may hope that you miss this crucial deadline. If you do, you can expect them to use it as a defense and refuse to pay any compensation.
Outcomes of Not Filing a Car Accident Report
Failing to self-report an accident when required is punishable as a noncriminal, non-moving traffic violation (Florida Statutes § 316.066(3)(a)).
If someone is required to report the accident to the police under § 316.065 and they fail to report it, they may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. Failing to report when an accident results in bodily injury is a third-degree felony. If there is serious bodily injury, it is a second-degree felony. When a crash results in death, failing to report is a first-degree felony carrying a mandatory four years in prison.
Filing a car accident report creates a timely record of the accident and what happened. It makes it harder for the defense to deny a claim based on arguments that injuries and damages came from another source.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident in Florida
If you have serious injuries in a car accident, you can have help from an attorney. You can get legal help immediately following a car accident.
At Maderal Byrne & Furst, we represent you in all aspects of your case as soon as we’re involved, including how to report the car accident to insurance and begin your claim.
Contact us today to learn more about reporting a car accident and begin your case.