How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident?

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there are approximately 27,000 traffic accidents in the Tampa, Florida, area alone each year. Accidents occur for many reasons, including dangerous driving conditions, poorly designed intersections, and driver negligence.

A Lady Justice statue standing in front of a clock.

Regardless of the reason for an accident, Florida law gives drivers a certain period of time to report their accidents. But exactly how long do you have to report an accident in the Sunshine State? The answer to that question is a bit more complex than it may seem.

Whether you have suffered personal injury or property damage due to another driver’s negligence, we can help. If you have been in an accident, let Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, fight for you — contact us to schedule a consultation today.

What Are the Reporting Requirements in Florida?

Calling 911 if someone is injured in a car wreck is a natural response for most people, but not everyone is aware of their responsibilities when it comes to reporting an accident.

To protect their rights to file auto insurance claims and to stay within the limits of Florida law, drivers and their passengers need to know when, where, and how to report accidents.

Keep in mind that state laws and insurance requirements are not always the same. This means that meeting the requirements of your insurance policy will not always cover your legal responsibilities. Here is what you need to know about both sets of requirements.

What Does Florida Law Say?

Florida Statute 316.006 requires drivers to report a traffic accident within 10 days of the incident. You may file a report directly through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or with the responding officer.

A crash report establishes key facts about whether you should file a lawsuit or an insurance claim in the future. Any accident that involves the following requires a report:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • A commercial vehicle
  • Property damage exceeding $500
  • A vehicle that was towed from the scene
  • An involved party that left the scene of the accident (a hit-and-run)
  • A drunk driver

Reports ask for basic information, such as where and when the accident occurred, who was involved, and what caused the incident. An accident report is the equivalent of preserving information. Filing a report is not a legal action, nor does it obligate you to take legal action.

What About Insurance Claims?

The requirements to notify insurance about your accident vary from policy to policy. The best course of action is to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible after the accident. Failure to meet certain deadlines could result in losing the right to file a claim.

What if Someone Needs Emergency Medical Care?

To preserve your right to sue for injuries, you will need to seek medical attention within 14 days of the car wreck. You may be eligible to recover up to 80% of your medical expenses through a personal injury protection claim.

If you or a passenger suffered a serious injury that required emergency medical care, you may receive the maximum payout amount.

It’s important to note that the 14-day time period only applies to seeking medical care, not to filing a claim. As long as you have met all other applicable deadlines, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is two years.

Failure to file within the statute of limitations could result in defendants being absolved of any liability. If this happens, any case to negotiate a settlement with the insurer will be weakened. Missing the statute of limitations can also result in your case being barred from the civil court system.

What To Do if You Are in a Vehicle Accident

Even being a minor fender bender can be a nerve-racking experience. If you have been in a serious collision that resulted in injury to yourself, a passenger, or the other driver, it is understandable that you may not be thinking clearly.

However, it is vital you take the proper steps after a car accident to protect yourself legally and financially. Generally, this means that you should:

  • Determine whether anyone is injured and call 911 if needed
  • Move your vehicle to the side of the road and set up hazard signals, if possible
  • Call the police if the collision is major or there are injuries
  • Take photos and get witness statements and contact information
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver or drivers
  • Avoid any roadside discussion about fault or liability
  • Call a tow truck if needed
  • Call your insurance company
  • Call an experienced accident attorney
  • See your doctor and follow up with any recommended care or appointments

Be proactive about filing forms and other paperwork. Don’t assume your insurance agent or the other driver is taking care of the documentation.

Being involved in an accident doesn’t obligate you to file a lawsuit or an insurance claim, but it may be in your best interests to do so. Making sure all necessary deadlines have been met will help protect your legal rights and financial future. A car accident lawyer can ensure you don’t miss any deadlines and fill out all paperwork correctly.

Let Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, Fight For You

A gavel on a personal injury attorney's desk.

Navigating the legal system after a car wreck can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. The compassionate team at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, fights to protect victims’ rights in Florida and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Whether you have suffered personal injury or property damage due to another driver’s negligence, we can help. If you have been in an accident, let Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, fight for you — contact us to schedule a consultation today.


FLA. STAT. § 316.066.

Florida’s Official Crash Portal.

Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2021.