If you get into a car accident in Florida, do you have to report it? If so, who do you need to report the accident to, and how is the report made? What if you can't (or don't) report a car accident in Florida? We'll answer those questions (and a few more) in this article. (More: Florida Car Accident Laws.)
In Florida, the driver of a vehicle must report any car accident:
The driver must report the accident to the local police department if the accident occurred within a municipality. If the accident did not occur within a municipality, the driver must report the accident to the office of the county sheriff or to the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Florida law requires that the driver report the accident "immediately," by the quickest means of communication.
Once a driver has orally reported an accident to the proper authorities, the driver only needs to file a written accident report if a local, county, or state law enforcement agency (i.e., policy or sheriff) did not investigate the accident. So, if you orally reported an accident to the local police, and the police did a formal investigation, you do not need to file any type of written report.
But if the police or sheriff did not investigate a reportable accident, the driver must, within 10 days after the accident, file a written accident report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Failure to report a reportable car accident is a non-criminal, non-moving traffic infraction, punishable with a $30 fine in Florida. If you are required to file a written accident report because the accident was not investigated by a law enforcement agency, but you fail to do so, you could be liable for a separate non-moving traffic infraction.
If, as the driver, you are physically incapable of making a report, the law exempts you from having to file the report during the time that you are incapacitated. But once you are physically capable of making the report, you must do so.
If you are physically incapable of making an immediate oral report or a subsequent written report of a car accident, and there was a passenger in your vehicle at the time of the accident who is capable of making a report, the passenger must make the report or have someone else make it.
If a driver is physically incapable of making the subsequent written report of an accident, and the driver was not the owner of the vehicle, the vehicle's owner must, within 10 days after the accident, make the report if the driver has not made it by then.
For more information on the rules for reporting a car accident in Florida, you can refer to:
There is no Florida law that requires you to report a car accident to your car insurance company, but standard automobile insurance contracts almost always require you to report any crash very soon after it occurs. If the insured fails to report an accident within a reasonable period of time (such as within a day or two), the insurer may deny coverage for the accident.
So, even if your car accident was minor and did not rise to the level of a "reportable accident" under Florida law, you want to report it to your automobile insurer just to make sure that the carrier will provide coverage for the accident in case you need it.
Learn more about Steps to Take After a Car Accident.