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For minor accidents in Florida, it can be confusing to know what steps to take. Do you need to file a police report? Should you seek medical care? Will you qualify for a personal injury claim if you didn’t sustain serious injuries? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
Minor accidents, also called fender benders, are common in Florida. For some, getting into a minor car accident can lead to some confusion about what to do and what’s required of you.
You may be wondering whether you need to contact law enforcement, if you have to inform your insurance adjuster about a minor accident, and when you’re allowed to leave the accident scene. A Florida car accident lawyer can answer these questions and help you understand whether you should file a claim.
In the meantime, learn what steps you should take immediately after a minor car crash in Florida.
You do have to report all motor vehicle accidents in Florida. You don’t have to contact law enforcement for minor accidents, though.
Instead, you can file a report online. Simply visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website and fill out a “Driver Report of Traffic Crash (Self-Report)” or a “Drive Exchange of Information” form.
The site will provide instructions for which form you may need and how to fill it out.
According to the FLHSMV, you do not have to contact law enforcement if no injuries occurred. If any injuries occurred — even minor ones, like cuts or lacerations — you must contact the police right away.
Note that some injuries are not apparent immediately, as they may be masked by your shock from the crash, which is why all accident victims should seek emergency medical attention.
Vehicle damage that exceeds $500 must be reported for all Florida car accidents, regardless of whether the accident can be deemed minor in terms of other damages. How can you tell the extent of property damage?
That’s the problem: without professional advice from an insurance adjuster or qualified mechanic, you won’t know the cost of damages to your vehicle.
For this reason, if your vehicle is damaged at all, it may help to contact law enforcement and get a police report on file in case you need it later for an insurance claim or personal injury claim.
Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy insurance coverage, required of all Florida motorists, may cover the damages. If the damage exceeds this amount, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
As mentioned, you do not have to contact the police after a motor vehicle accident in Florida if there are no injuries. But does this mean you don’t need to seek medical care?
While the decision is ultimately yours, it may be in your best interest to get medically cleared. You may not feel any effects due to the adrenaline your body is experiencing post-crash. This can mask symptoms of many injuries.
Some injuries, like internal bleeding, may not have outward signs. Other injuries may not show signs for days or weeks to come, such as whiplash, which is one of the most common car accident injuries reported on accident claims.
Seeking medical attention regardless of whether you feel all right immediately after the accident can protect your health and improve the likelihood of getting compensated for your injuries. You can’t get paid for medical bills caused by the accident if you have no medical records to show.
Seeking emergency medical care for yourself and any others is of utmost importance, and the fastest way to do this is often by calling 9-1-1. Unless you have a medical background, it’s important to have a medical professional check you out, as well as any other accident victims.
Depending on where the accident occurred in the roadway, try to move to a safe location off the road nearby. Don’t leave the scene of the accident yet, but get yourself out of harm’s way, and help any other injured motorists to get to safety as well.
Be careful when tending to any injured persons, and if injuries are serious or extensive, don’t try to move other people. Simply stay with them until help arrives. If your vehicle is in working order, put your hazard lights on as a signal of caution to other drivers.
It’s highly important after any accident to collect information from others involved in the accident, and this includes minor car accidents in Florida.
Because accidents are high-energy, you may not be aware of all damages or injuries present at the time of the crash. If you exchange information, though, you can contact the at fault driver’s insurance company should you need to file a claim.
If no damages or injuries were involved, simply exchange insurance information and contact information, such as your names and cell phone numbers, with the other driver. If any injuries or property damage occurred, be sure to take down the following information:
Statements from any witnesses may help provide unbiased information for your car accident case, if you need to start one. Talk to any onlookers or people who stop after the accident.
Write down or make notes on your phone about their account of the story. Be sure not to admit any fault to them or to anyone else, even if damages are minor.
It’s important to record your own account of the accident details while they are fresh in your mind. This is especially crucial if you had any fault in the accident.
You may not be able to complete this step until you return home after the accident and recover, but you should write down what happened as soon as you are able to do so.
Write down what you remember seeing, the sequence of events, any road signs or lights you remember seeing, any road conditions or weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident, and any other details you can think to include.
Recording your personal statement the same day of the accident gives you a guide to reference later on, when details may become hazy or difficult to remember.
If you don’t have an official accident report from police officers, it can be helpful to have photos of the accident scene to reference. In major car crashes in Florida, such as hit-and-run accidents, this can become crucial evidence for your case.
In minor car accidents, photos of the scene of the accident may serve as a reference in case you need to submit them to your car insurance for a claim or to your personal injury attorney later on. Here are the photos you should take after a fender bender:
Most minor car accidents occur between just two vehicles, but some minor rear-end collisions can involve multiple cars. Photograph all cars in their positions before you or the other driver leave the scene. Be sure to take pictures of all sides of the car, from multiple angles.
If damage occurred to any parts of any cars involved in the accident, take pictures of all damages. Try to take several pictures from different angles to show the damage. If the accident happened at night, be sure to use your flash feature for better lighting.
Skid marks can show how an accident happened. In accidents which result in injury cases, skid marks can offer insight into who is at fault for the accident. As with other details, shoot photos of any roadway skid marks from various angles.
If you or any passengers had any injuries, be sure to record these with photos as well. This is helpful for minor car accidents, where injuries may fade over time.
By the time your personal injury attorney helps you secure a settlement offer, evidence of injuries from a minor accident, such as bruising or lacerations, may be healing. Photos help to show the original extent and severity of the injuries.
Take as many pictures as possible of the site where the accident occurred, even if the vehicles have been moved. Include such details as nearby barriers to visibility, like trees, bushes, or anything that could create a blind spot, as well as the roadway.
If it was raining in Tampa or wherever the accident occurred in Florida, be sure to capture pictures of the rain, or any standing water in the road. If high winds caused you or the other driver to lose control, try to capture proof of something that shows the wind, and so on.
Finally, be sure to capture pictures of any signage, road signals, traffic cameras, or any other traffic-related warnings that may have contributed to or which could have helped to prevent the crash.
Florida is a no-fault state, according to the Florida Legislature. This means all motorists who experience vehicle damage or bodily injury following a car accident must file a claim with their own insurance company.
Your personal injury protection policy will offer coverage up to a certain amount. For most minor car accidents, your personal injury medical costs and property damage shouldn’t exceed your coverage.
If they do, you may have legal options, including filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver for the extra damages. An experienced car accident attorney can help you get started on your case.
When in doubt, reach out to a reputable law firm for legal advice. The best car accident lawyers can offer you a free consultation to discuss the accident and help you understand whether you have a case.
A ‘minor’ car accident in Florida is one that does not lead to serious or catastrophic (life-changing) injuries for accident victims or to extensive property damage. Some common types of minor car accidents include:
Minor car accidents may lead to a range of injuries, some of which can be severe, even at low impact and low speed. Injuries that may result from minor vehicle crashes in Florida:
Keep in mind that even minor injuries can garner hefty medical bills, which is why you may need to file a personal injury claim for compensation.
Have you or a loved one been in a minor car accident in Florida? Before writing off your injuries or vehicle damage, seek help from reputable personal injury lawyers.
You should not have to cover accident-related expenses if you were not at fault. The best car accident lawyers know Florida law, and are standing by to help you seek fair compensation and to offer legal advice. Reach out to LegalFinders today for more information.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles — Florida Insurance Requirements: Involved in a Crash?
The Florida Legislature — The 2022 Florida Statutes: 627.7407
Merriam-Webster — Fender bender: Definition and meaning