Being involved in any kind of car accident is a stressful experience, but you may wonder how the process is different for minor car accidents. There are special considerations under Florida law for minor car accidents.
As minor car accidents are some of the most common types of collisions, it’s crucial to understand your responsibilities after being involved in a minor accident. It’s essential to comply with the law so that you can avoid legal troubles and receive the compensation you deserve for your accident.
How Do Minor Car Accidents Occur?
Minor car accidents happen throughout Florida every day. A minor car accident is an accident that results only in property damage. There might be another vehicle involved, or you may be in a single-vehicle accident. Here are some common ways that minor car accidents occur:
• Backing into a parked car
• Failing to stop for the vehicle in front of you
• Sliding on wet roads and running into a mailbox or parked vehicle
• Turning on a yellow light when there isn’t enough room to make the turn successfully
• Misjudging the distance between you and the car in front of you in a parking lot
These are just some of the ways that minor car accidents can occur. Even though no one intends to get into a fender bender, minor accidents can happen when you least expect it.
Make Sure No One’s Hurt
When you’re in a minor car accident, the first thing to do is make sure that no one’s hurt. Sometimes, car accident injuries may be subtle. You may have a concussion or other soft tissue damages and not even realize it. If there’s even a chance that anyone is injured, summon medical help immediately. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also what Florida law requires.
Do I Have to Call the Police?
The general rule is yes; you have to call the police after a minor car accident. The law outlining this obligation is 2017 Florida Statutes 316.061. When you’re in a crash, you must stop your vehicle at the scene until you’ve fulfilled the requirement of making a report. You must do your best to stop your car in a place that doesn’t obstruct traffic.
Florida law 316.062 says that you must make sure that the police know about the crash. If a police officer arrives on the scene right after the accident, you’ve met this requirement. If the police don’t come on their own, it’s up to you to make a report to the nearest police authority.
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What Happens If I Don’t Make A Report?
When you don’t make the report that’s required of you under Florida law, you face a criminal charge in addition to any traffic ticket that you might have gotten. If the accident results in only property damage, you face up to 60 days in jail. If someone gets seriously hurt or killed in the accident, failing to make a report of the crash is a serious felony.
Many judges are very harsh on people who don’t properly report an accident. They assume that you have something to hide. They might accuse you of drunk driving or accuse you of having something illegal, like drugs. Your best bet is always to report a car accident even if you think you’re going to get a ticket or a criminal charge. If you’re charged with fleeing the scene, you will receive the traffic ticket or criminal charge in addition to the charges of fleeing the scene.
Typical Outcomes Of a Minor Car Accident
Remember that Florida has a no-fault system. Even if you’re to blame, you can’t get sued for a minor car accident. In cases where there are some injuries, each party must still look to their own insurance to collect. It’s only in cases where an individual has serious injuries or disfigurement that you risk having to defend a lawsuit. Because Florida requires all drivers to have their own vehicle insurance, if a driver doesn’t comply with the law to have insurance, they’re out of luck after a minor car accident.
The police may investigate the cause of the accident. If you broke a traffic law, you can expect a ticket. If you disagree with the ticket, you have the opportunity to contest it. The police usually come to the scene of an accident to investigate. However, if it’s a small crash and there aren’t many people involved, they may just take the information for their records. You can request a copy of the police report.
Is There Ever a Scenario Where I Wouldn’t Want to Make a Report?
There are very limited circumstances where you may not want to report a minor car accident. If you’re in a crash that only involves you, your vehicle, and your property, you may choose not to make a report. You’ll be on your own to pay for the repairs. If the damages are small, this might be an option for you.
When there’s an accident involving your vehicle, damages can add up quickly. You may have the necessary insurance coverage to get some help paying for the damages. It’s important to remember that you only have the option to decline to make a vehicle report if your accident involves only your own vehicle and property. As soon as there’s another person involved, the law requires you to make a statement.
How Can an Attorney Help?
After a minor car accident, an experienced Tampa car accident attorney can help you determine if it’s in your best interests to file a report. They can make sure that you’ve followed what Florida law requires when it comes to minor accidents. If you need to contest a ticket, they can help.
An experienced attorney also makes sure that you get a fair recovery from your insurance company. If you have grounds to bring a claim against another driver, your attorney can help you understand your options. Your lawyer can help you look at your case from all angles to help you identify and pursue your best interests and protect your rights under the law.
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