What Happens if I Do Not Report a Car Accident in Florida?
Bill Allen | May 23, 2023 | Car Accidents
Florida law requires you to report most car accidents. Because of how the law is written, it applies to almost all collisions except those that cause minor paint scratches. Florida’s crash reporting laws even apply when you hit an unattended vehicle.
Violating this law comes with relatively minor penalties. Failure to report an accident is a non-moving violation that will earn you a traffic citation. But the civil and criminal consequences increase greatly depending on the circumstances of the accident and whether anyone was injured or killed.
Florida’s Crash Reporting Laws
Florida has two primary crash-reporting laws:
Accidents Causing Death, Injury, or Property Damage
The first law applies to crashes that happen when both vehicles are attended.
Under Florida law, you must call the police after any car accident that causes:
Because of the low damage threshold, this law will apply to almost all crashes. According to one auto insurance marketplace, replacing a bumper will run anywhere from $500 to $2,000, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Crashes that require auto body work or painting will cost even more.
To comply with the law, you will call 911 for emergencies or *347 to reach the Road Rangers Service Patrol. You must contact the local police if your crash happens within city limits. You can call the county sheriff’s department or the Florida Highway Patrol for crashes outside city limits. The operator will connect you with the agency for your crash.
If you fail to report an accident, the police can issue a citation. This ticket is considered to be a non-moving violation and will earn you a $30 fine. You will not receive any points on your driving record or risk jail time unless you neglect to pay the fine.
Crashes Involving Unattended Property
The second law applies to unattended vehicles. If you hit an unattended parked car, Florida requires you to locate the vehicle’s owner or leave a note on the damaged car with your contact information. If you do not locate the vehicle owner, you must also report the accident to the nearest police station.
A violation of this law is treated more like a hit-and-run than a failure to report an accident. If you leave the damaged vehicle without notifying the owner and reporting the crash to the police, prosecutors can charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor.
After a conviction, you could face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. You will also receive six points on your driving record.
Florida’s Hit-and-Run Law
A failure to report an accident often happens in combination with a hit-and-run accident. The difference between hit-and-run and failure to report is whether you stopped at the accident scene.
Suppose that you stopped at the crash site and exchanged information with the other driver. You both agreed not to notify the police. You have failed to report an accident and could receive a citation for that offense. But you did not commit a hit-and-run.
Alternatively, suppose that you hit someone and you drove on without stopping. In this scenario, you committed two offenses. You failed to report an accident and committed a hit-and-run.
Florida takes hit-and-run crashes very seriously. Prosecutors can charge a driver with a third-degree felony for leaving the scene of an accident.
They can upgrade the charges to:
- A second-degree felony if anyone suffered a serious injury
- A first-degree felony if anyone died
- A first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of four years if anyone died and the driver was intoxicated
In addition to incarceration, a judge can sentence the driver to pay a fine to the state and restitution to anyone injured or killed in the accident. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) will also automatically revoke a person’s driver’s license after a hit-and-run conviction.
Florida’s Auto Insurance Law
Many drivers choose not to report accidents because they don’t have car insurance.
Florida law requires all vehicle owners to carry the following types of coverage in their car insurance:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for the injuries of anyone in the vehicle under Florida’s no-fault insurance law
- Property damage liability (PDL) coverage pays for property damage caused by the driver’s negligence
Uninsured drivers can face many consequences, including:
- A non-moving traffic violation with a fine of $30
- Automatic suspension of their driver’s license and vehicle registration
- A jail sentence of up to a year if they present an insurance card when they know the policy has expired
Uninsured drivers also face civil consequences if anyone is injured in the accident.
Civil Consequences of Failing to Report a Car Accident in Florida
When you contact the police after a crash, you satisfy your legal obligations. You also create a record of what happened. The responding officers will investigate the crash and produce an accident report. This report will document what happened, who was involved, and the resulting injuries.
If you get into an accident that you do not report, you will likely have trouble getting any insurance benefits for injuries or vehicle damage. Insurance fraud has been a problem in Florida for many years. As a result, insurers are extra vigilant about claims filed without accident reports.
You will face this skepticism whether you file a no-fault claim under your PIP coverage or a liability claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. In either case, the claims adjuster will question why you did not report the crash to the police. They may even question whether the crash happened.
Protect Your Rights: Report Car Accidents in Florida
Your best option for avoiding any problems is to always report car accidents that satisfy the statutory requirements. You will avoid getting a ticket and paying a fine. And you will not need to argue with an adjuster about paying your insurance claims.
Contact Our Gainesville Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
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