Should I Call the Police to the Scene of My Car Accident?
Whether or not you should call the police after a car accident depends on the approximate dollar amount of the property damage and whether or not there are injuries involved. From the standpoint of a personal injury law firm, the car accident lawyers at Weinstein Legal would always prefer that their clients call the police even if they don't believe that they sustained any injuries. If you have injuries that you become aware of after the accident, you could be entitled to damages for your medical bills, time off from work, lost property, and much more. If you do believe that you've been injured in an accident in Broward or Palm Beach counties, call Weinstein Legal to speak to a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach free of charge. Once we learn the details of your crash, we'll be able to assess the viability of your case.
Does Florida Law Require Me to Call the Police After an Accident?
Under Florida law, you are required to immediately report a car accident to the police if either of the following conditions exists:
- The car accident involved injuries or death, or
- There is at least $500 in property damage
The $500 property damage threshold is sufficiently low that most accidents should be reported, but there is another important reason that you should make a report when you're involved in an accident: the possibility of latent injuries.
Injuries in Low-Speed and Low-Damage Accidents
There's an obvious correlation between high-dollar-damage accidents and injuries. The greater the collision impact, the more likely it is that you sustain injuries. That does not mean, however, that you can't be injured in a minor fender bender. In fact, the damage threshold of most bumpers is about 5 mph, meaning that an impact over 5 mph will result in bumper damage. This is near the approximate speed where hyperextension of the cervical spine results in the condition known as “whiplash.” So, it is possible that you can be injured in a low-speed collision and not even realize it at the time of the accident.
Reporting Your Accident to the Police
For many people, even minor interactions with the police can be stressful. When you summon the police to the scene of an accident, it's normal to be nervous, but it's important that you convey the information you want them to record. Here are some tips for accident reporting:
- Have your license, registration, and proof of insurance at the ready. If you don't have all of these items, ask the officer if they're able to look them up with your information. At worse, you'll receive a non-moving violation traffic citation that you can deal with later. They don't carry points.
- Do not admit fault for the accident or make statements to absolve the other driver's liability. For instance, you shouldn't say something like, “Well, I had the green light, but I was going a little fast.” The police may be able to reconstruct your speed based on physical evidence on scene, but it's unlikely that you will know your exact speed prior to your accident.
- You can answer direct questions from the police regarding the accident. If you don't know the answer, don't guess. Tell the officer that you don't know.
- Report any injuries you sustained. If you don't feel like you've been injured, it's fine to admit that you aren't sure.
- Advise the officer of any indication you have that the other driver was intoxicated.
- Allow EMTs to examine you on scene. It's important to know if they detect any signs of injury.
If you make a mistake in the way you described the accident to the police, it's possible to modify your statement later, but try to be accurate.
Car Accident Statistics
In 2019, there were a total of 401,867 crashes in the state of Florida. Of those, 36% involved injuries to one or more parties. Although there were 236,753 injuries, only 21,248 (less than 10%) were fatal or incapacitating.
The following are the DHSMV crash figures for Broward and Palm Beach for 2019:
FAQ About Car Accidents in Florida
At the Weinstein Legal Team, our personal injury lawyers assist accident victims in getting the compensation that they deserve. Many of our clients have similar questions. Here are a few that we typically receive from car accident victims.
What if I Have a Fender-Bender With No Injuries?
If the estimated property damage exceeds $500, you are still required to report the accident, but you should also be aware of the fact that you and your passengers may have injuries that you don't know about yet.
Could My Accident Have Caused Not-yet Apparent Injuries?
Yes. In the moments and hours after a car accident, the adrenaline in your body may be masking the pain from your injuries. Until you've had a thorough examination by a physician, you may not know that you've been injured.
What Can I Do to Protect My Claim in Case Injuries Appear Later?
Even if you don't feel you have injuries after a car accident, you should do what you can to protect your accident injury claim in the event that they later appear.
- Call the police for the car accident report. Do you have to call the police after a minor accident? Not necessarily, but err on the side of caution.
- Take pictures of the property damage to all of the vehicles involved.
- Go to your doctor to get checked out for injuries.
- Retain all information for your attorney.
How Long Do I Have to Make an Injury Claim for a Car Accident?
The statute of limitations for a car accident claim in the state of Florida is four years, but it's in your best interest to get the process started as quickly as possible. As time passes, cases become more difficult to prove. Don't delay.
Will a Car Accident Attorney Represent Me for a Minor Accident?
At the Weinstein Legal Team, we consider any accident resulting in injuries to be worthy of representation. Unlike the straightforward process of making a claim for property damage, insurance companies are reluctant to make full settlement offers on injury claims.
Car Accident Lawyers for Broward and Palm Beach
The attorneys at Weinstein Legal are committed to helping car accident victims recover damages for their injuries. Our mission is to maximize the value of your claim so that you have the resources to make a full physical and financial recovery. Our personal injury team works on a contingency basis, which means that you don't have to pay your legal fees in advance. Our compensation is a pre-arranged percentage of your settlement or court award. Call today for a free case evaluation with one of our Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorneys.