In some car accidents, it’s hard to know whether or not the police need to be involved. Here’s our advice on when it’s appropriate to call the police after a collision.
According to the Florida DMV, there are more than 250,000 vehicle crashes in the state of Florida each year. While it’s important to drive safe and follow tips to prevent car accidents as much as possible, some accidents are just unavoidable. In those instances, you need to know what to do first, including whether you should contact the police or not.
When Do I Need to Report an Accident?
According to Florida law, you must report accidents that meet any of the following criteria:
– Damage is over $500
– A vehicle needs to be towed from the accident scene
– A commercial vehicle or public property was damaged
– A driver was intoxicated, driving dangerously or threatens the other driver in any way
– Someone is killed, injured or experiences any indication of pain
Keep in mind that there may be interior damage to your car, the other car or the passengers that you might not be able to see right now. By filing a police report, you have documentation of any damages or injuries related to the car accident.
If any of the above occurs and you do not report your car accident to the police, it is considered a noncriminal traffic violation that can involve appearing in court and community service if necessary.
What If It’s Not My Car?
If you get into an accident while driving a car that you do not own, the owner can file the report for you. Remember that in Florida, you have only 10 days after an accident to file a police report.
Who Do I Call?
When reporting an accident with no major injuries, you should contact the Florida Highway Patrol. They will send an officer who will file a police report for the accident. To report traffic crashes, drunk drivers, stranded motorists, etc., use Star FHP (*347) to contact the Florida Highway Patrol.
Be ready to give them your location, a description of each vehicle, contact and insurance information for each driver and all passengers, and contact information for all witnesses. If anyone is injured on the scene, you should call for emergency services immediately. If you aren’t sure whether the situation is an emergency, it is recommended that you call 911 and let the person on the phone determine if you need emergency vehicles. Some great tips for discussing the accident with the police officer include:
- Stay objective: Avoid admitting fault until you’ve been given all information about the accident, as outside factors may have been the root cause, not you.
- Write down the officer’s information: You’ll want to write down their name, ID number, phone number and the police report number.
For more tips on who you should contact first, read our article: Who to Call at the Car Accident Scene.
What information do I need to exchange?
After an auto accident, it’s important that the drivers exchange insurance and contact information. Information you should collect includes:
- Full Name
- License Plate Number
- Phone Number/Email Address
- Make and Model of Vehicle
- Insurance Information
Neglecting to contact authorities when necessary and not collecting information at the accident scene are some of the most common mistakes to avoid after being in an auto accident, especially if you are involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence. For similar frequently asked questions like this, view our FAQ page.
If you’ve been in an accident and are looking for legal advice about what to do next, contact us today. Or learn more below about our work with car accident cases in South Florida.