Mark Roman | August 28, 2021 | Car Accidents
Yes. You should always call 911 after a car accident in Florida. First, it might be required by law. Second, it’s a step that can help to safeguard your right to seek much-needed compensation for your injuries.
What is The Duty To Report a Car Accident in Florida?
Under Florida Statute Section 316.065, drivers have a legal obligation to report car accidents under certain circumstances.
According to this statute, any driver must immediately report a car accident to the police if:
- There have been any injuries;
- Someone was killed; or
- Property damage exceeds $500.
If you fail to report a crash to the police you can receive a traffic citation for the violation. An important thing to consider is that you also have a duty to render aid when you are involved in an accident.
Calling 911 to report the accident can help you satisfy this duty to render aid as well. Failing to render aid can be a much more serious offense if someone is injured and you don’t help them. When in doubt, call 911 to report the accident to satisfy your duty to report and to help show you were seeking help for injured parties.
It is also worth noting that nearly all car accidents involve damage over $500, and nearly all car accidents involve some injury. This means the mandatory reporting of accidents to police applies to almost every car accident in Florida!
What Are The Benefits of Reporting a Car Accident to the Police?
Calling 911 after a car accident has many benefits. Not only does it comply with your duty to report the accident under State law, but also helps show you stayed on scene to render aid.
It also has benefits such as:
- Other drivers may be hostile
- The police investigation will help determine fault
- The police will take witness statements and those can be helpful later
Getting a police report can help you support your claim for damages in an insurance claim or lawsuit down the line. The insurance company might read the police reports and agree that the insured was at fault, and pay up!
Additionally, some insurance policies might require a police report before they will pay on your claim. To avoid difficulties with this, it is best to just call 911 and let the police make their report.
What is The Car Accident Report Privilege?
You might be nervous to call 911 after a car accident because you are scared what you say will be used against you later. However, under Florida law, there is a unique provision called the Car Accident Report Privilege. Legal privilege means the information is inadmissible in court.
Statute 316.066(4) says that no statement you make to a police officer for the purpose of completing a car accident report can be used against you later in court in a civil or criminal trial. This law exists to encourage honesty in crash investigations so the police can figure out what happened.
However, the Car Accident Report Privilege is construed very narrowly. Police are allowed to finish a car accident report, then inform you they are now conducting a criminal investigation, and read the Miranda rights. After that point, anything you say can be used against you. Additionally, any statements not made specifically to complete the mandatory accident report could be used against you later.
Since you have a legal duty to report the accident and provide information for the accident report, it is still advisable to call 911 despite the narrow construction of the Car Accident Report Privilege.
What Should I Do After Calling 911?
Once you have satisfied your duties to report the accident to the police, render aid, and exchange information, you are probably wondering what you should do next. Make sure you get medical attention for any injuries.
Then, consider doing the following as well:
- Take photos of the scene of the accident
- Write down witness names
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Contact a car accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
The most important thing is fulfilling your legal duties and staying safe.
Contact the Clearwater Car Accident Law Firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today
For more information, please contact the legal team of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer in Clearwater. We have four convenient locations in Florida: Clearwater, New Port Richey, and Tampa.
Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
1811 N. Belcher Road, Suite I-1
Clearwater, FL 33765
Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Congress Ave Office
2360 Congress Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33763
Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
6601 Memorial Hwy Suite 202
Tampa, FL 33615
Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
2515 Seven Springs Blvd.
New Port Richey, FL, 34655