The moments following a car accident can be confusing, especially if there was any injury or property damage. You may wonder if it is necessary to involve the police, or to file a police report. Educating yourself regarding what you should do following an accident is important – especially since laws are different in many states.
Here in Florida, you must inform the police of an accident if :
- Anyone has been injured
- There is damage to either car or other property likely to exceed $500, or
- The accident took place on public property.
If an accident took place on private property, such as in your driveway, it is not necessary to file a report.
However, you may be surprised to know that a grocery store parking lot is often considered “private property.” When in doubt, always call an officer to document the scene.
Why is it Important to File a Police Report?
The most important reason to have a police report is that you will have an impartial assessment of the situation. Often, people are shaken after an accident, and details may begin to change in their mind once they have a chance to think about the accident. For instance, all parties may leave the scene agreeing that the damage was not severe enough to document. However, if one driver subsequently files a report that says you were responsible for a large amount of damage, the situation can turn into a case of “he said, she said”, and it can be difficult to determine who is telling the truth.
A police presence onsite after an accident will accurately document the damage to all cars and property, the stories of all involved parties, and the extent of any physical injuries. If stories change later, the police report can act as an arbiter.
A police report will also be useful to submit to your insurance company. In a no-fault state, your insurance company will most likely be responsible for the bulk of damages, and the documented report will help to validate your claims.
What Should You Document After an Accident?
- After an accident, take as many photos as you can of the cars involved, any property damage, and any other details which may be important, such as a downed tree in the road or a pothole.
- Speak to other drivers/passengers and take note of their comments and seeming physical condition.
- If there are witnesses to the accident, ask if they are willing to speak to the police or give a statement.
People involved in a car accident can generally get a copy of the police report directly from the department which filed the report. If there is a criminal case attached to the accident, a copy of the police report can be obtained through the District Attorney’s office, or through your attorney.
If you feel that an accident which you have been involved in may result in a lawsuit, it is imperative that you call a Sarasota personal injury attorney. However, we recommend that you speak with an attorney after any accident which caused injury or property damage, to properly protect yourself and get the best results from your insurance company.
For more information on what to do after a car accident, call the expert attorneys at Probinsky, Chavez & Cole. We can help you to determine the best course of action and to protect you no matter what transpires.