What to Know About Car Accident Reports in Miami, FL
September 6, 2021 | Sagi Shaked
Florida State Law requires a driver to report a car accident to police when:
- Someone is injured or killed; OR
- Property damage exceeds $500
The easiest way to report an accident to the police is by calling 911. Most car accidents involve property damage above $500 — even simple fender benders can cost hundreds of dollars in repairs. Consequently, drivers have to report most accidents.
Failing to report an accident is punishable with a traffic citation. You have other duties besides reporting an accident, including a duty to stay on the scene and render aid to accident victims if necessary.
If you are physically unable to report a car accident at the time of the crash, you must report it as soon as you are able.
Police accident reports will typically include the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the crash
- Car descriptions
- Names and addresses of drivers and passengers
- Names and addresses of witnesses
- Proof of insurance from all drivers
These accident reports are available to accident victims, their lawyers, and their insurers. However, accident reports are subject to the “Accident Report Privilege.”
What is Florida’s Car Accident Report Privilege?
The Florida Car Accident Report Privilege exists to encourage parties to be honest with police as they try to figure out what happened during an accident. It also prevents conflicts with the privilege against self-incrimination.
Florida Statute 316.066(4) declares that statements you make to police for the purpose of completing the mandatory accident reports are not admissible against you in court. This rule applies to both civil and criminal trials.
However, this rule gets confusing in practice. The police may “switch hats” during a crash investigation when they are done with the accident report and begin conducting a criminal investigation. Case law on this subject allows police to advise drivers that they are switching to an investigative role and read them Miranda rights. After that point, the privilege would no longer apply.
There are exceptions to the privilege, such as for field sobriety tests or refusals to take sobriety tests. If you have any concerns about criminal liability in connection with a crash, invoke your rights to remain silent and request an attorney.
What Information Should I Gather After A Car Accident?
When the police make their report, they should gather all the information you will need for your injury claim. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that you gather some information yourself.
You should obtain:
- Photos of the cars, property damage, and the intersection or location of the accident
- Witness names and contact information
- Insurance and contact information from other drivers
This information will strengthen your claim and ensure you have everything you need after the crash.
Do I Need to Report My Car Accident to My Insurer?
Many insurance plans require an insured to report a car accident promptly to the insurer. If you have been in an accident, be sure to read your insurance policy and study your reporting requirements. Failing to comply could mean you lose coverage.
However, you should not give any insurer a recorded or written statement before you speak with an attorney. The accident report discussed above was privileged, remember? This means insurance companies want to get their own statements they can use against you in court!
Shaked Law Firm is skilled at helping injured parties recover after a car accident. If you have any questions in the aftermath of a car accident, we are happy to help.