If you’ve been driving for a while, you’ve likely been involved in a minor accident or two. Whether it’s a fender-bender, sideswipe accident or you were bumped by another vehicle in a parking lot, the damage may seem so minor that it’s not worth waiting for the police to arrive. If you are not in pain, you and the other driver may simply exchange insurance information and go on your way, not bothering to wait for the police or file a police report. However, what if you were injured in the accident and the shock of the impact masked your symptoms until after you left the scene of the accident? If you didn’t report the accident, can you still recover for your injuries?
Reacting After a Car Accident
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, deciding whether it should be reported isn’t actually the first thing you should do. It is important to take the following steps immediately after you are involved in a car accident:
- Get to safety if you are able;
- Check yourself, your passengers, and then others involved with injuries;
- Call 911 immediately if anyone has been trapped, rendered unconscious, is bleeding or is complaining of pain, and
- Begin the information gathering process.
If the scene is safe and there are no visible or serious injuries, it is important to take pictures of the following in order to preserve any future personal injury or property claims, even if you decide not to call the police:
- The scene of the accident, including street signs;
- The license plates of the vehicles involved;
- The damage to the vehicles;
- Any debris located at the scene, and
- Any skid marks or road obstructions.
You should not allow another driver to take pictures of your license or vehicle registration, as your personal information may be at risk. However, it is important to demand to see identification that matches the description of the driver as well as vehicle registration, inspection, and insurance documentation.
Mandatory Accident Reports in Florida
In Florida, there are certain situations when law enforcement must be called, even if the other party insists that he or she doesn’t want to involve the police. Failing to do so can have serious consequences, and it is a crime. These situations include:
- If there are any injuries;
- If the property damage appears to be over $500;
- If the accident was a hit-and-run; or
- If the other driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
The situation often isn’t clear. If you don’t know how to estimate vehicle body damage or you only have a minor headache as a result of the accident, you may debate whether it’s really necessary to involve the police. Further, the other party may try and convince you not to file a police report, especially if he or she is not operating the vehicle legally, doesn’t have insurance, or is afraid his or her rates might go up. When in doubt, you should always contact law enforcement. However, if these situations do not clearly apply and you are debating whether to call the police after a car accident, keep a local Florida personal injury firm, such as the Dolman Law Group, on speed dial and ask for a quick consultation with an attorney.
Latent Injuries & Car Accidents
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may step out of your vehicle feeling pretty good all things considered. It may not seem that anyone has been injured, and as a result, you and the other driver may determine not to call 911. However, it is important to consider that not all car accident injuries manifest immediately after the accident, especially if you are experiencing an adrenaline rush, which can increase your focus and mask your pain for a short time. The following injuries are common after a car accident, but they can manifest hours or even days later:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries;
- Sprains and strains;
- Bruising, and
- Spinal injuries involving nerve roots and disruptions.
So what happens if you are involved in an accident, do not call the police, which means there will be no police report, and find that a day later you need treatment for your severe neck injury? The problem is that, without a police report, your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company may disclaim liability or refuse to pay for your medical bills, especially when Florida law requires you to call the police if you believe you’ve been injured. Accordingly, even if you do not believe you have suffered from a serious injury after a car accident, it is always a good idea to call the police so that there is a report of the accident on file and the police officer can act as a neutral witness if need be.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney with Questions
Whether you were just involved in a car accident or have questions about a past car accident after which you did not call the police, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your options. You may have to go to the police station to file an accident report. Ultimately, if the accident caused substantial property damages and the impact was heavy, it is always important to contact your local police department for assistance. They know what to look for when it comes to certain traumatic brain and neck injuries, and they may be able to help keep you calm after an unexpected accident. If you were injured in a Florida car accident and you have questions about the nature of your police report or your interaction with local police after your accident, contact the Dolman Law Group, your premier personal injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. They can advise you as to what steps you need to take after an accident under Florida law. Contact them today online or at (727) 222-6922 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712