A few weeks ago, all lanes on I-95 North and South were closed for hours after a tractor trailer lost control, causing a multi-vehicle accident near the Florida-Georgia border. Sometimes accidents are unavoidable, and they can be devastating, costly, and life changing. Knowing what to do and how to manage an accident can help alleviate the stress of the experience and thwart any legal issues that may follow.
So, do you need to file a report? The answer is YES. Filing a report after a car accident is a must.
How often do car accidents happen?
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than five million car accidents each year, more than 14,000 car accidents each day, one car accident every 6 minutes. The statistics are staggering.
Should I call the police after an accident?
It is a good idea to call the police when you are in an accident, even a minor one.
You MUST immediately report an accident to the police if there is:
- A death or injury
- A hit and run accident
- An intoxicated driver
- Property damage over $500
The police should give you a police report number to reference later when needed.
If the police are not contacted, you MUST complete a “Driver Report of Traffic Crash” or “Driver Exchange of Information” within 10 days. The form can be downloaded here.
The reports must include detailed, current insurance coverage information. The FLHSMV will verify information with the insurance company. It is a first-degree misdemeanor if an invalid proof of insurance is knowingly provided. Also, if you do not have liability insurance, your driving privileges may be suspended.
What should I do after an accident in Fort Lauderdale?
Following safe practices like those found here on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is one way to stay safe and prepare ourselves, but do you know what to do if you are in an accident?
Always use common sense and common courtesy to guide your actions when the worst happens.
- Never leave the scene of an accident. This may result in revoked driving privileges, a suspended driver’s license, or a charge of a second- or third-degree felony.
- Do not panic, assess the situation, and if able, move your vehicle to a safe spot and turn on your hazard lights.
- If you are injured, remove yourself from danger, and wait in a safe place for help.
- If you have passengers, children, or pets, make sure they are safe and secure.
- If others are injured, call 911, and safely assist if you are able. Be careful if an injured person needs to be moved. Wait for an ambulance if possible.
- Exchange contact, vehicle, and insurance information with other parties involved in the accident. Be sure to share:
- Name, address, and contact details
- Driver license number(s)
- License plate number(s)
- Auto insurance information – policy numbers/contact information
- Take photographs if you are able.
- If an unattended vehicle is involved, try to locate the driver. If unable to locate the driver, leave a note with contact information and description of the accident.
What do I need to know about car insurance?
The purpose of car insurance is to protect you and your property from harm while on the road. Car insurance varies from state to state. In Florida, a car owner must have the following coverages:
- Bodily Injury – Minimum personal injury protection worth $10,000 per person, and $20,000 per accident. This will pay for damages for bodily injury or death due to an accident that is your fault. This may provide you with a legal defense in most cases.
- Property Damage – Minimum property damage liability worth $10,000. This covers damage to someone else’s property due to an accident that is your fault. This may provide you with a legal defense in most cases.
- Uninsured Motorists – Minimum $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident If an uninsured driver causes an accident that you are involved in, this will cover your injuries or property damage.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Minimum $10,000 per person for personal injury. Regardless of who is at fault, this coverage may pay for medical treatment, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
Additionally, Florida has a no-fault law which requires all drivers to have PIP. This will pay for medical bills whether you are at fault or not. A no-fault law does not mean that drivers are not legally required to pay for damages when they are at fault. It means that drivers must rely on their own auto insurance to pay for additional costs.
Lastly, Florida also has the financial responsibility law. This law requires that drivers with a history of accidents, excessive points, or other driving infractions must carry full liability auto insurance coverage.
Insurance laws are strictly enforced in Florida. If an owner cannot prove they have insurance, their registration can be suspended for up to 3 years.
Victims of car accidents can experience serious injuries and a lot of medical debt. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call the Yeboah Law Group at 1-800-TELL-SAM, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We operate offices in Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Miami, and Boca Raton.